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Gift of 

Prof, Claude M« Simpson 

'/ ■ 




qPHIS BOOK, described briefly 
below, is submitted for exam- 
ination and with a view to its 
adoption for class use 



(Educational Edition) 

Joseph Conrad 

suBjEcyr OR grade t 

An educational edition for 
classroom use. 



An opinion of this volume is soli- 
cited by the publishers 

Doubleday, Doran 6? Company, Inc. 

Garden ^-ity^ New York 














When this novel first appeared in book form a 
notion got about that I had been bolted away with. 
Some reviewers maintained that the work starting 
as a short story had got beyond the writer's control. 
One or two discovered internal evidence of the fact, 
which seemed to amuse them. They pointed out the 
limitations of the narrative form. They argued that 
no man could have been expected to talk all that 
time, and other men to listen so long. It was not, 
they said, very credible. 

After thinking it over for something like sixteen 
years I am not so sure about that. Men have been 
known, both in the tropics and in the temperate zone, 
to sit up half the night '* swapping yams." This, 
however, is but one yam, yet with interruptions 
affording some measure of relief; and in r^ard to 
the listeners' endurance, the postulate must be ac- 
cepted that the story was interesting. It is the neces- 
sary preliminary assumption. U I hadn't beUeved 
that it was interesting I could never have begun to 
write it. As to the mere physical possibility we all 
know that some speeches in Parliament have taken 
nearer six than three hours in deUvery; whereas 
all that part of the book which is Marlow's narrative can 
be read through aloud, I should say, in less than three 
hours. Besides — ^though I have kept strictly all such 
insignificant details out of the tale— we may presume that 
there must have been refreshments on that night, a glass 
of mineral water of some sort to help the narrator on. 



But, seriously, the truth of the matter is, that my 
first thought was of a short story, concerned only with 
the pilgrim ship episode; nothing more. And that 
was a Intimate conception. After writmg a few 
pages, however, I became for some reason discon- 
tented and I laid them aside for a time. I didn't 
take them out of the drawer till the late Mr. William 
Blackwood suggested I should give something again 
to his magazine. 

It was only then that I perceived that the pilgrim 
ship episode was a good starting-point for a free and 
wandering tale; that it was an event, too, which 
could conceivably colour the whole '* sentiment of 
existence'' in a simple and sensitive character. But 
all these preliminary moods and stirrings of spirit 
were rather obscure at the time, and they do not 
appear clearer to me now after the lapse of so many 

The few pages I had laid aside were not without 
their weight in the choice of subject. But the whole 
was re-written deliberately. When I sat down to it 
I knew it would be a long book, though I didn't fore- 
see that it would spread itself over thirteen numbers of 

I have been asked at times whether this was not 
the book of mine I liked best. I am a great foe to 
favouritism in public life, in private life, and even in 
the delicate relationship of an author to his works. As 
a matter of principle I will have no favourites; but 
I don't go so far as to feel grieved and annoyed by 
the preference some people give to my Lord Jim. 
I won't even say that I "fail to understand. . . ." 
No! But once I had occasion to be puzzled and 

A friend of mine returning from Italy had talked 


with a lady there who did not like the book. I re- 
gretted that, of course, but what siuprised me was 
the ground of her dislike. "You know," she said, 
'"it is all so morbid." 

The pronouncement gave me food for an hour's 
anxious thought. Finally I arrived at the conclusion 
that, making due allowances for the subject itself 
being rather foreign to women's normal sensibilities, 
the lady could not have been an Italian. I wonder 
whether she was European at all? In any case, no 
Latin temperament would have perceived anything 
morbid in the acute consciousness of lost honour. 
Such a consciousness may be wrong, or it may be 
right, or it may be condemned as artificial; andr---^ 

perhaps, my Jim is not a type of wide commonness^ j 

But I can safely assure my readers that he is not 
the product of coldly perverted thinking. He's not a 
figure of Northern Mists either. One sunny morning 
in the commonplace surroundings of an Eastern road- 
stead, I saw his form pass by — ^appealing — significant 
— under a cloud — ^perfectly silent. Which is as it 
should be. It was for me, with all the sympathy 
of which I was capable, to seek fit words for his mean- 
ing. He was "one of us. J 

— -^ 3. C. 

June, 1917. 




He was an inch, perhaps two, under six feet, power- 
fully built, and he advanced straight at you with a 
slight stoop of the shoulders, head forward, and a 
fixed from-under stare which made you think of a 
charging bull. His voice was deep, loud, and his 
manner displayed a kind of dogged self-assertion 
which had nothing aggressive in it. It seemed £ 
necessity, and it was directed apparently as much at 
himself as at anybody else. He was spotlessly neat, 
apparelled in immaculate white from shoes to hat, 
and in the various Eastern ports where he got his hving 
as ship-chandler's water-clerk he was very popular. 

A water-clerk need not pass aqi examination in 
anything under the sun, but he must have Ability 
in the abstract and demonstrate it practically. His 
work consists in racing under sail, steam, or oars 
against other water-clerks for any ship about to 
anchor, greeting her captain cheerily, forcing upon 
him a card — ^the business card of the ship-chandler — 
and on his first visit on shore piloting him firmly but 
without ostentation to a vast, cavern-like shop which 
is full of things that are eaten and drunk on board 
ship; where you can get everything to make her 
seaworthy and beautiful, from a set of chain-hooks 
for her cable to a book of gold-leaf for the carvings 
of her stem; and where her commander is received 



like a brotliesr by a ship-chandler he has never seen 
b^ore. There is a cool parlour, easy-chairs, bottles, 
cigars, writing implements, a copy of harbour regu- 
lations, and a warmth of welcome that melts the salt 
of a three months* passage out of a seaman's heart. 
The connection thus begun is kept up, as long as 
the ship remains in harbour, by the daily visits of 
the water-clerk. To the captain he is faithful like 
a friend and attentive like a son, with the patience 
of Job, the unselfish devotion of a woman, and the 
jollity of a boon companion. Later on the bill is 
sent in. It is a beautiful and himiane occupation. 
Therefore good water-derks are scarce. When a 
water-derk who possesses Ability in the abstract has 
also the advantage of having been brought up to the 
sea, he is worth ^ his employer a lot of money and 
some humouring. Jim had always good wages and 
as much humouring as would have bought the fidelity 
of a fiend. Nevertheless, with black ingratitude he 
would throw up the job suddenly and depart. To 
his employers the reasons he gave w^ii^e obviously 
inadequate. They said **G>nfounded fool!'' as soon 
as his back was turned. This was their criticism on 
his exquisite sensibility. 

To the white men in the waterside business and to 
the captains of ships he was just Jim — ^nothing more. 
He had, of course, another name, but he was anxious 
that it should not be pronounced. His incognito, 
. which had as many holes as a sdeve, was not meant 
^ to hide a persontdity but a fact. When the fact 
broke through the incognito he would leave suddenly 
the seaport where he happened to be at the time 
and go to another — ^generally farther east. He kept 
to seaports because he was a seaman in exile from, 
the sea> and had Ability in the abstract, which is 


good for no other work but that of a water-clerk. 
He retreated in good order towards the rising sun, 
and the fact followed him casually but inevitably. 
Thus in the course of years he was known successively 
in Bombay, in Calcutta, in Rangoon, in Penang, in 
Batavia — and in each of these halting-places was just 
Jim the water-clerk. Afterwards, when his keen per - 
ception of the Intolerable drove him away for good 
fr^seaports and white men, even into the virgin 
forest, the Malays of the jungle village, where he had 
elected to conceal his deplorable faculty, added a 
word to the monosyllable of his incognito. They 
caUed him Tuan Jim: as one might say— Lord Jun. 

Originally ^^j)Hm^ ^^^ ^ pftrag."**g**i Many com- 
manders of 'IBine merchant-ships conie from these 
abodes of piety and peace. Jim's father possessed 
such certain knowledge of the Unknowable as made 
for the righteousness of people in cottages without 
disturbing the ease of mind of those whom an im- 
erring Providence enables to live in mansions. The 
little church on a hill had the mossy greyness of 
a rock seen through a ragged screen of leaves. It 
had stood there for centuries, but the trees aroimd 
probably remembered the laying of the first stone. 
Below, the red front of the rectory gleamed with a 
warm tint in the midst of grass-plots, flower-beds, 
and fir-trees, with an orchard at the back, a paved 
stable-yard to the left, and the sloping glass of green- 
houses tacked along a wall of bricks. The living had 
belonged to the family for generations; but Jim was 
one of five sons, and when after a course of light holiday 
literature his vocation for the sea had declared itself, 
he was sent at once to a ** training-ship for ofBcers of 
the mercantile marine." 

He learned there a Uttle trigonometry and how 





to cross tQ|>-galIant yards. He was generally liked. 
He had the third place in navigation and pulled 
stroke in the first cutter. Having a steady head 
with^an excellent physique, he was very smart aloft. 
His station was in the fore-top, and often from there 
he looked down, with the contempt of a man destined 
to shine in the midst of dangers, at the peaceful multi- 
tude of roofs cut in two by the brown tide of the 
stream, while scattered on the outskirts of the sur- 
rounding plain the factory chimneys rose perpendicular 
against a grimy sky, each slender like a pencil, and 
Ibelching out smoke like a volcano. He could see the 
big ships departing, the broad-beamed ferries con- 
stantly on the move, the little boats floating far below 
his feet, with the hazy splendour of the sea in the 
distance, and the hope of a stirring life in the world 
of adventure. 

On the lower deck in the babel of two humored 
voices he would forget himself, and beforehand live 
in his mind the - oea life ot^ligh t htera turg. He saw 
himself saving people from sinkmg ships, cutting away 
masts in a hurricane, swimming through a surf with a 
line; or as a lonely castaway, barefooted and half 
naked, walking on imcovered reefs in search of shell- 
fish to stave off starvation. He confronted savages 
on tropical shores, quelled mutinies on the high seas, 
and in a small boat upon the ocean kept up the hearts 
of despairing men — ^always an example of devotion to 

duty, and as unflinching as ^tJuaptusJ^.b^ 

"Something's up. Come along.** 

He leaped to his feet. The boys were streaming 
up the ladders. Above could be heard a great scurry- 
ing about and shouting, and when he got through the 
hatchway he stood still — ^as if confounded. 

It was the dusk of a winter's day. The gale had 


freshened since noon, stopping the trafficcb the river 
and now blew with the strength of a hurricane m 
fitful bursts that boomed like salvoes of great guns 
firing over the ocean. The rain slanted in sheets that 
flicked and subsided, and between whiles Jim had 
threatening glimpses of the timibling tide, the small 
craft jumbled and tossing along the shore, the motion- 
less buildings in the driving mist, the broad ferry- 
boats pitching ponderously at anchor, the vast landing- 
stages heaving up and down and smothered in sprays. 
The next gust seemed to blow all this away. The 
air was full of flying water. There was a flerce pur-. 

sern^B gfitera fxuious earnestness in the screech 
of tlGewind, in the brutal tumult of earth and sky, 
that seemed directed at him, and made him hold Ids 
breath in awe. He stood still. It seemed to him he 
was whirled around. 

He was jostled. *^Man the cutter!" Boys rushed 
past him. A coaster running in for shelter had crashed 
through a schooner at anchor, and one of the ship's 
instructors had seen the accident. A mob of boys 
clambered on the rails, clustered round the davits. 
*'G>llision. Just ahead of us. Mr. Symons saw it.'' 
A push made hun stagger against the mizzen-mast, 
and he caught hold of a rope. The old training-ship 
chained to her moorings quivered all over, bowing gently 
head to wind, and with her scanty rigging humming m a 
deep bass the breathless song of her youth at sea. 
** Lower away!" He saw the boat, manned, drop 
swiftly below the rail, and rushed after her. He heard a 
splash. **Let go; clear the falls!" He leaned over. 
The river alongside seethed in frothy streaks. The 
cutter could be seen in the falling darkness under the 
spell of tide and wind, that for a moment held her 
bound, and tossing abreast of the ship. A yelling 


(fvoice in her reached him faintly: ^' Keep stroke, you 

liyoung whelps, if you want to save anybody! Keep 

If stroke!'* And suddenly she lifted high her bow, and, 

leaping with raised oars over a wave, broke the spell 

cast upon her by the wind and tide. 

^tfiSr felt his shoulder gripped firmly. '*Too late, 
youngster." The captain of the ship laid a restrain* 
ing hand on that boy, who seemed on the point of 

^_ leaping overboard, and Jim looked up with the pain 

of conscious defeat in his eyes. The captain smiled 
sympathetically. '"Better luck next time. This will 
teach you to be smart.*' 

A shrill cheer greeted the cutter. She came dancing 
back half full of water, and with two exhausted men 
washing about on her bottom boards. The tumult 
and the menace of wind and sea now appeared very 
contemptible to Jim, increasing the regret of his awe at 
their inefficient menace. Now he knew what to think 

irf^ Tt seemed to him he cared nothing for the gale. 

He could affront greater perils. He would do so — 

V^ better than anybody. Not » purfipU nf fpj^y wftigjgff . 
Nevertheless he brooded apart that evening while the 
bowman of the cutter — a boy with a face like a girl's 
and big grey eyes — ^was the hero of the lower deck. 
Eager questioners crowded round him. He narrated: 
'"I just saw his head bobbing, and I dashed my boat- 
hook in the water. It caught in his breeches and I 
nearly went overboard, as I thought I would, only old 
Symons let go the tiller and grabbed my l^s — ^the boat 
nearly swamped. Old Symons is a fine old chap. I 
don't mind a bit him being grumpy with us. He swore 
at me all the time he held my 1^, but that was only 
his way of telling me to stick to the boat-hook. Old 
Symons is awfully excitable — ^isn't he? No — ^not the 
little fair chap — ^the other, the big one with a beard. 


When we pulled him in he groaned, *0h, my leg! 
oh, my 1^!' and turned up his eyes. Fancy such a 
big chap fainting like a girl. Would any of you 
fellows faint for a jab with a boat-hook? — ^I wouldn't. 
It went into his leg so far." He showed the boat- 
hook, which he had carried below for the purpose, 
and produced a sensation. *^No, silly! It was not 
his flesh that held him — ^his breeches did. Lots of 
blood, of course.'* 

Jim thought it a pitiful display of vanity. The 
gale had ministered to a lieroism as spu rious as it s 
own prete nce of terror. He felt angry with the bru- 
tal iimiult of earth and sky for taking him unawares 
and checking unfairly a- ggnerous readines s fpr "^n^y 
_ escap es. Otherwise he was rather glad he had not gone 
into th6 cutter, since a lower achievement had served 
the turn. He had enlarged his knowledge more than 
those who had done the work. When all men flinched, 
then — ^he felt sure — ^he alone would know how to deal 
with the spiuious menace of wind and s^as. , He knew 
what to think of it. Seen dispassionately/ it seemed 
contemptible. He could detect no trace of emotion in 
himself, and the final effect of a staggering event was 
that, unnoticed and apart from the noisy crowd of boys, 
he exulted with fresh certitude in his avidity for ad- 
venture, and in a sense 6t many-sided courage. 


After two years of training he went to sea, and 
entering the regions so well known to his imagina- 
tion, found them strangely barren of adventure. He 
made many voyages. He knew the magic monotony 
of existence between sky and water: he had to bear 
the criticism of men, the exactions of the sea, and the 
prosaic severity of the daily task that gives bread — 
but whose only reward is in the perfect love of the 
work. This reward eluded him. Yet he could not 
go back, because there is nothing more enticing, 
disenchanting, and enslaving than the life at sea. 
Besides, his prospects were good. He was gentle- 
manly, steady, tractable, with a thorough knowledge 
of his duties; and in time, when yet very young, he 

!. became chief mate of ^Gne ship, without ever having 
tbeen , tested by those events of the sea that show 
I in the ligM of day th e inner worth of a m an, the 
ledge of his temper, and the ^bre of his stuS; that 
I reveal the quality of his resistance and the secret truth 
of his pretences, not only to others but also to himself. 
Only once in all that time he had again the glimpse 
of the earnestness in the anger of the sea. That 
truth is not so often made apparent as people might 
think. There are many shades in the danger of 
adventures and gales, and it is only now and then 
that there appears on the face of facts a simster vi- 
olence of intention — ^that indefinable something which 
forces it upon the mind and the heart of a man, that 
this complication of accidents or these elemental 



furies are coming at him with a purpose of malice, with 
a strength beyond control, with an unbridled cruelty 
that means to tear out of him his hope and his fear, the 
pain of his fatigue and his longing for rest: which means 
to smash, to destroy, to annihilate all he has seen/ 
known, loved, enjoyed, or hated; all that is priceless an< 
necessary — ^the sunshine, the memories, the future, — \ 
which means to sweep the whole precious world utterly \ 1 
away from his sight by the simple and appalling act. Qfj ! 
taking his life. 

Jim, disabled by a falling spar at the beginning of 
a week of which his Scottish captain used to say 
afterwards, '^Man! it's a pairfect meeracle to me 
how she lived through it!" spent many days stretched 
on his back, dazed, battered, hopeless, and tormented 
as if at the bottom of an abyss of unrest. He did not 
care what the end would be, and in his lucid moments 
overvalued his indifference. The danger, when not 
seen, has the imperfect vagueness of human thought. 
The fear grows shadowy; and Imagination, the enemy of 
men, the father of all terrors, unstimulated, sinks to rest 
in the dulness of exhausted emotion. / Jim saw nothing 
but the disorder of his tossM-eal:^. He lay there 
battened down in the midst of a small devastation, and 
felt secretly glad he had not to go on deck. But now 
and again an uncontrollable rush of anguish would 
grip him bodily, make him gasp and writhe under 
the blankets, and then the unintelligent brutality 
of an existence liable to the agony of such sensations 
filled him with a despairing desu-e to escape at any 
cost. Then fine weather retmned, and he thought 
no more about it. 

His lameness, however, persisted, and when the ship 
arrived at an Eastern port he had to go to the hospital. 
His recovery was slow, and he was left behind. 


There were only two other patients in the white 
men's ward: the purser of a gunboat, who had broken 
his I^ falling down a hatchway; and a kind of railway 
contractor from a neighbouring province, afflicted by 
some mysterious tropical disease, who held the doctor 
for an ass, and indulged in secret debaucheries of patent 
medicine which his Tamil servant used to smuggle in 
with imwearied devotion. They told each other the 
story of their lives, played cards a little, or, yawning and 
in pyjamas, lounged through the day in easy-chairs 
without saying a word. The hospital stood on a hill, 
and a gentle breeze entering through the windows, 
always flung wide open, brought into the bare room the 
softness of the sky, the languor of the earth, the be- 
witching breath of the Eastern waters. There were 
perfumes in it, suggestions of infinite repose, the gift of 
endless dreams. Jim looked every day over the thickets 
of gardens, beyond the roofs of the town, over the fronds 
of palms growing on the shore, at that roadstead 
which is a thoroughfare to the East, — at the road- 
stead dotted by garlanded islets, lighted by festal 
sunshine, its ships like toys, its brilliant activity 
resembling a holiday pageant, with the eternal serenity 
of the Eastern sky overhead and the smiling peace of 
the Eastern seas possessing the space as far as the 

Directly he could walk without a stick, he descended 
into the town to look for some opportunity to get home. 
Nothing offered just then, and, while waiting, he 
associated naturally with the men of his calling in the 
port. These were of two kinds. Some, very few and 
seen there but seldom, led mysterious lives, had pre- 
served an undefaced energy with the temper of buc- 
caneers and the eyes of dreamers. They appeared to 
live in a crazy maze of plans, hopes, dangers, enterprises. 


ahead of civilisation, in the dark places of the sea, 
and their death was the only event of their fantastic 
existence thatseei^ed to have a ]*!easonable ee^titude Qf 
achieyeflient.j The majority were men who, like him- 
selfT thrown there by some accident, had remained as 
officers of comitry ships. They had now a horror of the 
home service, with its harder conditions, severer view of 
duty, and the hazard of stormy oceans. They were at- 
tmied to the eternal peace of Eastern sky and sea. 
They loved short passages, good deck-chairs,, large 
native crews, and the distinction of being white. They 
shuddered at the thought of hard work, and led pre- 
cariously easy lives, always on the verge of dismissal, 
always on the verge of engagement, serving Chinamen, 
Arabs, half-castes — ^would have served the devil him- 
self had he made it easy enough. They talked ever- 
lastingly of turns of luck: how So-and-so got charge 
of a boat on the coast of China — a soft thing; how this 
one had an easy billet in Japan somewhere, and that 
one was doing well in the Siamese navy; and in all 
they said — ^in their actions, in their looks, in their 
persons — could be detected the soft spot, the place of 
decay, the determination to lounge safely through 

To Jim that gossiping crowd, viewed as seamen, 
seemed at first more unsubstantial than so many 
shadows. But at length he found a fascination in 
the sight of those men, in their appearance of doing 
so well on such a small allowance of danger and toil. 
In time, beside the original disdain there grew up 
slowly another sentiment; and suddenly, giving up 
the idea of going home, he took a berth as chief mate 
of the Patna. 

The Patna was a local steamer as old as the hills, 
lean like a greyhound, and eaten up with rust worse 



than a condemned water-tank. She was owned by 
a Chinaman, chartered by an Arab, and commanded 
by a sort of renegade New South Wales German, 
very anxious to ciurse pubKcly his native country, 
but who, apparently on the strength of Bismarck's 
victorious policy, brutalised all those he was not 
afraid of, and wore a ^^blood-and-iron" air, combined 
with a purple nose and a red moustache. After she 
had been painted outside and whitewashed inside, eight 
hundred pilgrims (more or less) were driven on board of 
her as she lay with steam up alongside a wooden jetty. 
They streamed aboard over three gangways, they 
streamed in urged by faith and the hope of paradise, 
they streamed in with a continuous tramp and shuffle 
of bare feet, without a word, a murmur, or a look 
back; and when clear of confining rails spread on 
all sides over the deck, flowed forward and aft, over- 
flowed down the yawning hatchways, filled the inner 
recesses of the ship — ^like water filling a cistern, like 
water flowing into crevices and crannies, Uke water 
rising silently even with the rim. Eight hundred men 
and women with faith and hopes, with affections and 
memories, they had collected there, coming from north 
and south and from the outskirts of the East, after 
treading the jungle paths, descending the rivers, 
coasting in praus along the shallows, crossing in small 
canoes from island to island, passing through suffering, 
meeting strange sights, beset by strange fears, upheld 
by one desire. They came from sohtary huts in the 
wQdemess, from populous campongs, from villages 
by the sea. At the call of an idea they had left their 
forests, their clearings, the protection of their rulers, 
their prosperity, their poverty, the surroundings of 
their youth and the graves of their fathers. They came 
covered with dust, with sweat, with grime, with rags — 

/^ <^. jc^i 

^C) LORD JIM 15 

the strong men at the head of fanuly parties, the lean 
old men pressing forward without hope of return; 
young boys with fearless eyes glancing curiously, shy 
little girls with tumbled long hair; the timid women 
muffled up and clasping to their breasts, wrapped in 
loose ends of soiled head-cloths, their sleejjingbabies, 

j-^f ^y|i/>/^tign^r^iifiL^lgriTpg of aU CXactil^ h^^/ST^ "^^ 

"Look at dese Qgttl^** said^the'Xrerman skipper to \ 
his new chief mate. 

An Arab, the leader of that pious voyage, came 
last. He walked slowly aboard, handsome and grave 
m his white gown and large turban. A string of 
servants followed, loaded with his luggage; the Paina 
cast off and backed away from the wharf. 

She was headed between two small islets, crossed 
obliquely the anchoring-ground of sailingnships, swung 
through half a circle in the shadow of a hill, then 
ranged close to a ledge of foaming reefs. The Arab 
standing up aft, recited aloud the prayer of travellers 
by sea. He invoked the favour of the Most High 
upon that journey, implored His blessing on men's toil 
and on the secret piuposes of their hearts; the steamer 
pounded in the dusk the calm water of the Strait; 
and far astern of the pilgrim ship a screw-pile light- 
house, planted by unbelievers on a treacherous shoal, 
seemed to wink at her its eye of flame, as if in derision 
of her errand of faith. 

She cleared the Strait, crossed the bay, continued 
on her way through the "Oneniegree** passage. She 
held on straight for the Red Sea under a serene sky, 
under a sky scorching and unclouded, enveloped in 
a fulgor of sunshine that killed all thought, oppressed 
the heart, withered all impulses of strength and energy. 
And under the sinister splendour of that sky the sea, 
blue and profound, remained still, without a stir. 


without a ripple, without a wrinkle — viscous, stagnant, 
dead. The Patruiy with a slight hiss, passed over that 
plain luminous and smooth, unrolled a black ribbon of 
smoke across the sky, left behind her on the water a 
white ribbon of foam that vanished at once, like the 
phantom of a track drawn upon a lifeless sea by the 
phantom of a steamer. 

Every morning the sun, as if keeping pace in his 
revolutions with the progress of the pilgrimage, emerged 
with a silent burst of light exactly at the same distance 
astern of the ship, caught up with her at noon, pouring 
the concentrated fire of his rays on the pious purposes 
of the men, glided past on his descent, and sank myste- 
riously into the sea evening after evening, preserving 
the same distance ahead of her advancing bows. The 
five whites on board lived amidships, isolated from the 
human cargo. The awnings covered the deck with a 
white roof from stem to stem, and a faint hum, a low 
murmur of sad voices, alone revealed the presence of a 
crowd of people upon the great blaze of the ocean. 
Such were the days, still, hot, heavy, disappearing one 
by one into the past, as if falling into an abyss for ever 
open in the wake of the ship; and the ship, lonely under 
a wisp of smoke, held on her steadfast way black and 
smouldering in a luminous immensity, as if scorched by 
a fiame fiicked at her from a heaven without pity. 

The nights descended on her like a benediction. 


A BiARVELLOUS stillness pervaded the world, and 
the stars, together with the serenity of their rays, 
seemed to shed upon the earth the assurance of ever- 
lasting security. The young moon recurved, and 
shining low in the west, was like a slender shaving 
thrown up from a bar of gold, and the Arabian Sea, 
smooth and cool to the eye like a sheet of ice, ex- 
tended its perfect level to the perfect circle of a dark 
horizon. The propeller turned without a check, as 
though its beat had been part of the scheme of a 
safe universe; and on each side of the Patna two 
deep folds of water, permanent and sombre on the 
unwrinkled shimmer, enclosed within their straight 
and diverging ridges a few white swirls of foam burst- 
ing in a low hiss, a few wavelets, a few ripples, a few 
undulations that, left behind, agitated the surface 
of the sea for an instant after the passage of the ship, 
subsided splashing gently, calmed down at last into the 
circular stillness of water and sky with the black speck 
of the moving hull remaining everlastingly in its 

f Jim on the bridge was p^etrated by:^ihe_ great 
Certitude of unhojiinded safety afiTl^eace that could 
be read on the silent aspeW of nature like the certi- 

f tude of fostering love upon the placid tenderness of 
a mother's facfT-Below the roof of awnings, sur- 

• rendere d t o t^ wisdom of white men and to their 
courage, trusting the power of their unbelief and 
the iron sheU of then* fire-ship, the pilgrims of an 



exacting faith slept on mats, on blankets, on bare 
planks, on every deck, in all the dark comers, wrapped 
in dyed cloths, muffled in soiled rags, with their heads 
resting on small bundles, with their faces pressed to bent 
forearms: the men, the women, the children; the 
old with the yoimg, the decrepit with the lusty — aU 
equal before sleep, death's brother. 

A draught of air, fanned from forward by the speed 
of the ship, passed steadily through the long gloom 
between the high bulwarks, swept over the rows of 
prone bodies; a few dim flames in globe-lamps were 
IjLung short here and there under the ridge-poles, and in 
the blurred circles of light thrown down and trembling 
slightly to the unceasing vibration of the ship appeared 
a chin upturned, two closed eyelids, a dark hand with 
silver rings, a meagre limb draped in a torn covering, a 
head bent back, a naked foot, a throat bared and 
stretched as if offering itself to the knife. The well- 
to-do had made for their families shelters with heavy 
boxes aud dusty mats; the poor reposed side by side 
with all they had on earth tied up in a rag under their 
heads; the lone old men slept, with drawn-up legs, 
upon their prayer-carpets, with their hands over their 
ears and one elbow on each side of the face; a father, 
his shoulders up and his knees under his forehead, dozed 
dejectedly by a boy who slept on his back with tousled 
hair and one arm commandingly extended; a woman 
covered from head to foot, like a corpse, with a piece of 
white sheeting, had a naked child in the hollow of each 
arm; the Arab's belongings, piled right aft, made a 
heavy mound of broken outlines, with a cargo-lamp 
swung above, and a great confusion of vague forms 
behind : gleams of paunchy brass pots, the foot-rest of a 
deck-chair, blades of spears, the straight scabbard of an 
old sword leaning against a heap of pillows, the spout 


of a tin coffee-pot. The patent log on the taffrail 
periodically rang a single tinkling stroke for every 
mile traversed on an errand of faith. Above the 
mass of sleepers a faint and patient sigh at times 
floated, the exhalation of a troubled dre^g^and 
short metallic clangs bursting out sudSenly^m the 
depths of the ship, the harsh scrape of a shovel, the 
violent slam of a furnace-door, exploded brutally, 
as if the men handling the mysterious things below 
had their breasts full of fierce anger: while the slim 
high hull of the steamer went on evenly ahead, without 
a sway of her bare masts, cleaving continuously the 
great calm of the waters under the inaccessible serenity 
of the sky. 

Jim paced athwart, and his footsteps in the vast 
silence were loud to his own ears, as if echoed by the 
watchful stars: his eyes roaming about the line of 
the horizon, seemed to gaze hungrily into the un- 
attainable, and did not see the shadow of the coming 
event. The only shadow on the sea was the shadow 
of the black smoke pouring heavily from the funnel 
its immense streamer, whose end was constantly 
dissolving in the air. Two Malays, silent and almost 
motionless, steered, one on each side of the wheel, 
whose brass rim shone f ragmentarily in the oval of 
light thrown out by the binnacle. Now and then 
a hand, with black fingers alternately letting go and 
catching hold of revolving spokes, appeared in the 
illiunined part; the links of wheel-chains ground 
heavily in the grooves of the barrd. Jim would glance 
at the compass, would glance around the unattainable 
horizon, would stretch himself till his joints cracked 
with a leisurely twist of the body, in the very excess of 
well-being; and, as if made audacious by the invincible 
aspect of the peace, he felt he cared for nothing that 


could happen to him to the end of his days. From time 
to time he glanced idly at a chart pegged out with four 
drawing-pins on a low three-legged table abaft the steer- 
ing-gear case. The sheet of paper portraying the depths 
of the sea presented a shiny surface under the light of 
a bull's-eye lamp lashed to a stanchion, a surface as 
level and smooth as the glimmering surface of the 
waters. Parallel rulers with a pair of dividers reposed 
on it; the ship's position at last noon was marked 
with a small black cross, and the straight pencil-line 
drawn firmly as far as Ferim figured the course of the 
ship — the path of souls towards the holy place, the 
promise of Salvation, the reward of eternal life — ^while 
the pencil with its sharp end touching the Somali coast 
lay round and still like a naked sUp's spar floating 
in the pool of a sbcltieredMij^jck^y'^ow steady she 
goes,*V thought Jim with wonder, with something 
like gratitude for this high peace of sea and sky. 
At such times his thoughts would be full of valorous 
deeds: he loved these dreams and the success of his 
i imaginary achievements. They were the best parts 
of life, its secret truth, its hidden reality v They had 
-ar-^orgeous virility, the charm of vagueness, they 
passed before him with a heroic tread; they carried 
his soul away with them and made it drunk with 
the divine philtre of an unbounded confidence in itself. 
There was nothing he could not face. He was so 
pleased with the idea that he smiled, keeping per- 
functorily his eyes ahead; and when he happened 
to glance back he saw the white streak of the wake 
drawn as straight by the ship's keel upon the sea 
as the black line drawn by the pencil upon the chart. 
The ash-buckets racketed, clanking up and down 
the stoke-hold ventilators, and this tin-pot clatter 
warned him the end of his watch was near. He 



sighed with content, with regret as weU at having 
to part from that serenity which fostered the ad- 
venturous freedom of his thoughts. He was a little 
sleepy, too, and felt a pleasurable languor running 
through every limb as though all the blood in his 
body had turned to warm milk, ffin nVippttr hnd 
come up noiselessly, in pyjamas and with his sleep- 
ing-jacket flimg wide open. Red of face, only half 
awake, the left eye partly closed, the right staring 
stupid and glassy, he hung his big head over the 
ctkart and scratched his ribs sleepily. There was 
something obscene in the sight of his naked flesh. 
His bared breast glistened soft and greasy as though 
he had sweated out his fat in his sleep. He pronoimced 
a professional remark in a voice harsh and dead, re- 
sembling the rasping sound of a wood-file on the edge 
of a plank; the fold of his double chin hung like a bag 
triced up close under the hinge of his jaw. Jim started, 
and his answer was full of deference biil the odious and 
fleshy figure, as though seen for the first time in a re- 
vealing moment, fixfid itsplljn his memoiy ior..ever as 
the incarnation of eveiythmg yII^ an^ that lurks 

in the World we love: in our own hearts we trust for ou r 
sa lvation in the men that surround us , in tibe sights that 

^ur eyes, m tne sounds that liil our ears, and in the I 
air that fills our limgs. N ^ 

The thin gold shaving of the moon floating slowly \ "^ ^ 
downwards had lost itself on the darkened surface of 
the waters, and the eternity beyond the sky seemed 
to come down nearer to the earth, with the augmented 
glitter of the stars, with the more profound sombre- 
ness in the lustre of the half -transparent dome cover- 
ing the flat disc of an opaque sea. The ship moved 
so smoothly that her onward motion was imper- 
ceptible to the senses of men, as though she had been 

', v^-. 

■*■ I 

•-*; /J-*. 



a crowded planet speeding through the dark spaces of 
ether behmd the swarm of suns» in the appalling and 
calm solitudes awaiting the breath of future creations. 
"Hot is no name for it down below," said a voice. 

Jim smiled without looking round. The skipper 
presented an immoved breadth of back: it was the 
renegade's trick to appear pointedly imaware of your 
existence imless it suited his purpose to turn at you 
with a devouring glare before he let loose a torrent 
of foamy, abusive jargon that came like a gush from 
a sewer. Now he emitted only a sulky grunt; the 
second engineer at the head of the bridge-ladder, 
kneading with damp palms a dirty sweat-rag, un- 
abashed, continued the tale of his complaints. The 
sailors had a good time of it up here, and what was 
the use of them in the world he would be blowed if 
he could see. The poor devils of engineers had to 
get the ship along anyhow, and they could very well 

do the rest too; by gosh they "Shut up" growled 

the German stolidly. "Oh yes! Shut up — and when 
anything goes wrong you fly to us, don't you?" went on 
the other. He was more than half cooked, he expected; 
but anyway, now, he did not mind how much he sinned, 
because these last three days he had passed through a 
fine course of training for the place where the bad boys 
go when they die — ^b'gosh, he had — ^besides being made 
jolly well deaf by the blasted racket below. The 
dumed, compound, surface-condensing, rotten scrap- 
heap rattled and banged down there like an old deck- 
winch, only more so; and what made him risk his 
life every night and day that God made amongst 
the refuse of a breaking-up yard flying round at fifty- 
seven revolutions, was more than he could tell. He 
must have been bom reckless, b'gosh. He . . . 
•• Where did you get drink? " inquired the German, very 


savage, but motionless in the light of the binnacle, 
like a clumsy effigy of a man cut out of a block of fat. 
Jim went on smiling at the retreating horizon; his heart 
was full of generous impulses, and his thought was 
contemplating his own superiority. "" Drink ! " repeated 
the engineer with amiable scorn : he was hanging on with 
both hands to the rail, a shadowy figure with flexible 
legs. "Not from you, captain. You're far too mean, 
b'gosh. You would let a good man die sooner than 
give him a drop of shnaps. That's what you Germans 
call economy. Penny wise, pound foolish.*' He be- 
came sentimental. The chief had given him a four- 
finger nip about ten o'clock — "only one, s'elp me!" — 
good old chief; but as to getting the old fraud out of his 
bunk — ^a five-ton crane couldn't do it. Not it. Not 
to-night anyhow. He was sleeping sweetly like a little 
chad, with a bottie of prime brandy under his pillow. 
From the thick throat of the commander of the Patna 
came a low rumble, on which the sound of the word 
schwein fiuttered high and low like a capricious feather 
in a faint stir of air. He and the chief engineer had been 
cronies for a good few years — ^serving the same jovial, 
crafty, old Chinaman, with horn-rimmed goggles and 
strings of red silk plaited into the venerable grey hairs 
of his pigtail. The quay-side opinion in the Patna^s 
home-port was that these two in the way of brazen 
peculation "had done together pretty well everything 
you can think of." Outwardly ihey were badly 
matched: one dull-eyed, malevolent, and of soft fieshy 
curves; the other lean, all hollows, with a head long and 
bony like the head of an old horse, with sunken cheeks, 
with sunken temples, with an indifferent glazed glance 
of sunken eyes. He had been stranded out East some- 
where — in Canton, in Shanghai, or perhaps in Yoko- 
hama; he probably did not care to remember himself the 


exact locality, nor yet the cause of his shipwreck. 
He had been, in mercy to his youth, kicked quietly 
out of his ship twenty years ago or more, and it might 
have been so much worse for him that the memory of 
the episode had in it hardly a trace of misfortune. 
Then, steam navigation expanding in these seas and 
men of his craft being scarce at first, he had "got on" 
after a sort. He was eager to let strangers know in 
a dismal mumble that he was "an old stager out 
here." When he moved a skeleton seemed to sway 
loose in his clothes; his walk was mere wandering, 
and he was given to wander thus around the engine- 
room skylight, smoking, without relish, doctored 
tobacco in a brass bowl at the end of a cherrywood 
stem four feet long, with the imbecile gravity of a 
thinker evolving a system of philosophy from the 
hazy glimpse of a truth. He was usually anything 
"blit f ree with his private store of Uquor; but on that 
night he had departed from his principles, so that 
his second, a weak-headed child of Wapping, what 
with the unexpectedness of the treat and the strength 
of the stuff, had become very happy, cheeky, and 
talkative. The fury of the New South Wales Ger- 
man was extreme; he puffed like an exhaust-pipe, 
and Jim, faintly amused by the scene, was impatient 
for the time when he could get below: the last ten 
minutes of the watch were irritating like a gun that 
hangs fire; those men did not belong to the world 
of heroic adventure; they weren't bad chaps though. 
Even the skipper himself . . . His gorge rose at 
the mass of panting flesh from which issued gurgling 
mutters, a cloudy trickle of filthy expressions; but 
he was too pleasurably languid to dislike actively 
this or any other thing. The quaUty of these men 
did not matter; he rubbed shoulders with them, but 


they could notJtQuch him; he shared the air they 
breathed, but /he^5?ks differ enj^-^. • . Would the 
skipper go for tEeeni^neer?''**^ . . The life wa^ easy 
ftnd he wafl ti;K) sure nf himsplf — ^too sure of hiinseli(^to 
. . . The line dividing his meditation from a surrep. / 
titious doze on his feet was thinner than a thread in / 
a spider's web. " '--^ 

The second engineer was coming by easy transi- 
tions to the consideration of his finances and of his 

"Who's drunk? I? No, no, captain! That won't 
do. You ought to know by this time the chief ain't 
free-hearted enough to make a sparrow dnmk, b'gosh. 
I've never been the worse for liquor in my life; the 
stuff ain't made yet that would make me drunk. I 
could drink liquid fire against your whisky peg for peg, 
b'gosh, and keep as cool as a cucumber. If I thought I 
was drunk I would jump overboard — do away with 
myself, b'gosh. I would! Straight! And I won't go 
off the bridge. Where do you expect me to take the air 
on a night like this, eh? On deck amongst that vermin 
down there? Likely — ^ain't it! And I am not afraid 
of anything you can do." 

The German lifted two heavy fists to heaven and 
shook them a little without a word. 

."I dea'J; fepow what fear is," pursued the engineer, 
with the enthusiasm of sincere conviction. "I am 
not afraid of doing all the bloomin' work in this rot- 
ten hooker, b'gosh! And a jolly good thing for you 
that there are some of us about the world that aren't 
afraid of their lives, or where would you be — ^you and 
this old thing here with her plates like brown paper — 
brown paper, s'elp me? It's all very fine for you — 
you get a power of pieces out of her one way and 
another; but what about me — what do I get? A 


measly hundred and fifty dollars a month and find 
yourself. I wish to ask you respectfully — ^respectfully, 
mind — ^who wouldn't chuck a dratted job like this? 
'Tain't safe, s'elp me, it ain't! Only I am one of them 
fearless fellows. . . .*' 

He let go the rail and made ample gestures as if 
demonstrating in the air the shape and extent of his 
valour; his thin voice darted in prolonged squeaks 
upon the sea, he tiptoed back and forth for the better 
emphasis of utterance, and suddenly pitched down 
head-first as though he had been clubbed from behind. 
He said ^^Damn!" as he tumbled; an instant of silence 
followed upon his screeching: Jim and the skipper 
staggered forward by common accord, and catching 
themselves up, stood very stiff and still gazing, amazed, 
at the imdisturbed level of the sea. Then they looked 
upwards at the stars. 

What had happened? The wheezy thump of the 
engines went on. Had the earth been checked in 
her course? They could not understand; and sud- 
denly the calm sea, the sky without a cloud, appeared 
formidably insecure m their immobiUty, a^ if poised 
on the brow of yawning destruction. The engineer 
rebounded vertically full length and collapsed again 
into a vague heap. This heap said "What's that?" 
in the muffled accents of profound grief. A faint noise 
as of thunder, of thunder infinitely remote, less than a 
sound, hardly more than a vibration, passed slowly, 
and the ship quivered in response, as if the thunder 
had growled deep down in the water. The eyes of the 
two Malays at the wheel glittered towards the white 
men, but their dark hands remained closed on the 
spokes. The sharp hull driving on its way seemed to 
rise a few inches in succession through its whole length, 
as though it had become pliable, and settled down 


again rigidly to its work of cleaving the smooth surface 
of the sea. Its quivering stopped, and the faint noise 
of thunder ceased all at once, as though the ship had 
steamed across a narrow belt of vibrating water and 
of humming air. 


A MONTH or so afterwards, when Jim, in answer 
to pointed questions, tried to tell honestly the truth 
of this experience, he said, speaking of the ship: ^'She 
went over whatever it was as easy as a snake crawling 
over a stick. " The illustration was good : the questions 
were aimmg at facts, and the official Inquiry was being 
held in the police court of an Eastern port. He stood 
elevated in the witness-box, with burning cheeks in a 
cool lofty room: the big framework of pimkahs moved 
gently to and fro high above his head, and from below 
many eyes were looking at him out of dark faces, out of 
white faces, out of red faces, out of faces attentive, 
spellbound, as if all these people sitting in orderly rows 
upon narrow benches had been enslaved by the fascina- 
tion of his voice. It was very loud, it rang startling in 
his own ears, it was the only sound audible in the world, 
for the terribly distinct questions that extorted his 
answers seemed to shape themselves m anguish and 
pain within his breast, — came to him poignant and 
silent like the terrible questioning of one's conscience. 
Outside the court the sun blazed — within was the wind 
of great punkahs that made you shiver, the shame 
that made you bmn, the attentive eyes whose glance 
stabbed. The face of the presiding magistrate, clean 
shaved and impassible, looked at him deadly pale 
between the red faces of the two nautical assessors. 
The light of a broad window under the ceiling fell from 
above on the heads and shoulders of the three men, 
and they were fiercely distinct in the half-light of the 


big court-room where the audience seemed composed 
of staring shadows. They wanted facts. Facts! They 
demanded facts from him, as if facts could explain 

"After you had concluded you had collided with 
something floating awash, say a water-logged wreck, 
you were ordered by your captain to go forward and 
ascertain if there was any damage done. Did you 
think it likely from the force of the blow?'* asked 
the assessor sitting to the left. He had a thin horse- 
shoe beard, salient cheek-bones and with both elbows 
on the desk clasped his rugged hands before his face, 
looking at Jim with thoughtful blue eyes; the other, 
a heavy, scornful man, thrown back m his seat, his 
left arm extended full length, drummed delicately with 
his finger-tips on a blotting-pad: in the middle the 
magistrate upright in the roomy arm-chair, his head 
inclined slightly on the shoulder, had his arms crossed 
on his breast and a few flowers in a glass vase by the 
side of his inkstand. 

"I did not," said Jim. "I was told to call no one 
and to mflkfcjo noise foy.Jmr of ^^^^ting b PiOnic* 
"Ithought the precaution reasonable. I took one 
of the lamps that were hung under the awnings and 
went forward. After opening the forepeak hatch I 
heard splashing in there. I lowered then the lamp 
the whole drift of its lanyard, and saw that the fore- 
peak was more than half full of water already. I 
knew then there must be a big hole below the water- 
line."- He paused. 

"Yes," said the big assessor, with a dreamy smile 
at the blotting-pad; his fingers played incesssantly, 
touching the paper without noise. 

"I did not think of danger just then. I might have 
been a little startled: all this happened in such a 

, /U-r- 


quiet way and so very suddenly. I knew there was 
no other bulkhead in the ship but the collision bulkhead 
separating the forepeak from the forehold. I went back 
to tell the captain. I came upon the second engineer 
getting up at the foot of the bridge-ladder: he seemed 
dazed, and told me he thought his left arm was broken; 
he had slipped oi) M^e top step when getting down while 
I wasioFwaiid. jHe exclaimed, *My God! That rotten 
bulkhead '11 give way in a minute, and the damned thing 
will go down under us like a lump of lead.' He pushed 
me away with his right arm and ran before me up the 
ladder, shouting as he climbed. His left arm himg by 
his side. I followed up in time to see the captain rush 
at him and knock him down flat on his back. He did 
not strike him again: he stood bending over him and 
speaking angrily but quite low. I fancy he was 
asking him why the devil he didn't go and stop the 
engines, instead of making a row about it on deck. 
I heard him say, *Get up! Run! fly!' He swore 
also. The engineer slid down the starboard ladder and 
bolted round the skylight to the engine-room com- 
panion which was on the port-side. He moaned as 
he ran. 

He spoke slowly; he remembered swiftly and with 
extreme vividness; he could have reproduced like an 
echo the moaning of the engineer for the better in- 
formation of these men who wanted facts. After his 
first feeling of revolt he had come roimd to the view 
ith^t only a meticulous precision of statement would 
Ibring out the true horror behind the appalling face 
of things. The facts those men were so eager to 
kri6w had been visible, tangible, open to the senses, 
occupying their place in space and time, requiring 
for their existence a fourteen-himdred-ton steamer 
and twenty-seven minutes by the watch; they made 


a whole that had features, shades of expression, a 
complicated aspect that could be remembered by 
the eye, and something else besides, something in- 
visible, a directing spirit of perdition that dwelt 
within, like a malevolent soul in a detestable body. 
He was anxious to make this clear. This had not 
been a common affair, everything in it had been 
of the utmost importance, and fortunately he re- 
membered everything. He wanted to go on talking 
for truth's sake, perhaps for his own sake also;, and 
while his utterance was deUberate>"his mind positively 
flew roimd and roimd the serried circle of facts that 
had surged up all about him to cut him off from the 
rest of his kind: it was like a creatiu'e that, finding 
itself imprisoned within an enclosure of high stakes, 
dashes roimd and round, distracted in the night, trying 
to find a weak spot, a crevice, a place to scale, some 
opening through which it may squeeze itself and escape. 
< This awful aativity. gf mind made him hesitate at times 
in his speech. • • • 

"The captain kept on moving here and there on 
the bridge; he seemed calm enough, only he stumbled 
several times; and once as I stood speaking to him 
he walked right into me as though he had been stone- 
blind. He made no definite answer to what I had to 
tell. He mumbled to himself; all I heard of it were 
a few words that sounded like ^confounded steam!* 
and ^infernal steam!' — something about steam. I 
thought . . ." 

He w as bgcoming irrelevant; a question to the 
point cut short his speech, like a pang of pain, and 
he felt extremely discoiu*aged and weary. He was 
coming to that, he was coming to that — ^and now, 
checked brutally, he had to answer by yes or no. 
He answered truthfully by a curt "Yes, I did"; and 


fair of face, big of frame, with young, gloomy eyes, 
he held his shoulders upright above the box whiler 
his soul writhed within him. He was made to answer 
another question so much to the point and so useless, 
then waited again. His mouth was tastelessly dry, 
as though he had been eating dust, then salt and bitter 
as after a drink of sea-water. He wiped his damp 
forehead, passed his tongue over parched lips, felt a 
shiver run down his back. The big assessor had 
dropped his eyeUds, and drummed on without a sound, 
careless and mournful; the eyes of the other above 
the sunburnt, clasped fingers seemed to glow with 
kindliness; the magistrate had swayed forward; his 
pale face hovered near the flowers, and then dropping 
sideways over the arm of his chair, he rested his temple 
in the palm of his hand. The wind of the punkahs 
eddied down on the heads, on the dark-faced natives 
wound about in voluminous draperies, on the Europeans 
sitting together very hot and m drill suits that seemed 
to fit them as close as their skins, and holding their 
round pith hats on their knees; while gliding along 
the walls the court peons, buttoned tight in long 
white coats, flitted rapidly to and fro, running on 
bare toes, red-sashed, red tiu-ban on head, as noiseless 
as ghosts, and on the alert like so many retrievers. 

Jim la eyes, w andering in the intervals of his an- 
swers, re sted upoii p ^hj^ft mfl.n ^]jo fiAj ypart. JrQga 
f]je p lh^^ i 'L.wif^ his face worn and clouded, fiiit with 
jguiet eyes that glanced straight, interested and clear. 
Jim answered another question and was tempted to 
cry out, "What's the good of this! what's the good!" 
He tapped with his foot slightly, bit his lip, and looked 
away over the heads. He met the eyes of the white 
man. The glance directed at him was not the fasci- 
nated stare of the others. It was an act of intelligent 

! / 



volition. Jim between two questions forgot himself so 
far as to find leisure for a thought. This fellow — ^ran 
the thought — ^looks at me as though he could see some- 
body or something past my shoulder. He had come 
across that man before — ^in the street perhaps. He was 
positive he had never spoken to him. For days, for 
many days, he had spoken to no one, but had held 
silent, incoherent, and endless converse with himself, 
like a prisoner alone in his cell or like a wayfar^ lost in 
a wilderness. At present he was answering questions 
that did not matter though they had a purpose, but 
he doubted whether he would ever again speak out 
as long as he hxed/ The "sound of his'own truthful 
statements confirmed his deUberate opinion that 

^p ^^h w^*^ ^f ^^ ""» ^ '^ '^^'^ »^^r Innff a r That man 
there seemed to be aware of his hopeless diflSculty, 
Jim looked at him, then turned away resolutely, as 
after a final parting. 

And later on, many times, in distant parts of the ^^ 
world, M^rl^y ffhffTTfi^ liiT^|qf^lf willing to remembfer "j 
^m, to remember him a t length, in detai l and audibi yT 

rerhaps it would be flf IfiP dinh^)-, on a verandaJb .. 
draped in motionless foliage and crowned with flowers, 
in the deep dusk speckled by fiery cigar-ends. The 
elongated bulk of each cane-chair harboiu'ed a silent 
listener. Now and then a small red glow would 
move abruptly, and expanding light up the fingers 
of a languid hand, part of a face in profound repose, 
or flash a crimson gleam into a pair of pensive eyes 
overshadowed by a fragment of an imrufiled fore- 
head; and with the very first word uttered Marlow's 
body, extended at rest in the seat, would become 
very still, as though his spirit had winged its way 
back into the lapse of time and were speaking through 
his lips from the past. 


n^YES^I attended tl^^ inguiry," he wouldjay, 
and to tB^day I haven't left off^^JKOod^nglin ^ 
I went./ I am willmg to believe each of us has a 
guardian angel, if you fellows will concede to me that 
each of us has a familiar devil as well. I want you 
to own up, because I don't like to feel exceptional in 
any way, and I know I have him — ^tlje devil, I mean. 
I haven't seen him, of coiuse, but I go upon circum- 
stantial evidence, -fie is there right enough, and, 
being malicious, he lets me in for that kind oi thing. 
What kind of thing, you ask? Why» the inquiT}T thing,. 
the yellow-dog tlung — you wouldn't think a mangy, 
native tyke would be allowed to trip up people in 
the verandah of a magistrate's court, would you? — 
the kind of thing that by devious, imexpected, Ixuly 
di aboKca Ljyays-oau ses nie to run up against men wi th 
fH^^ spots, w ith hard spots, witb^ hiddep plctgue spots, 
by Jover and loosens their tongues at the sight of me 
for their infernal confidences; as though, forsooth, I 
had no confidences to make to myself, as though — God 
help me! — ^I didn't have enough confidential informa- 
tion about myself to harrow my own soul till the end of 
my appointed time. And what I have done to be 
thus favoured I want to know. I declare I am as 
full of my own concerns as the next man, and I have 
as much memory as the average pilgrim in this valley, 
so you see I am not particularly fit to be a receptacle 
/^Sfl' confessions. Then why? Can't tell — ^unless it be 
to make time pass away after dinner. Charley, my 



dear chap, your dinner was extremely good, and 
in consequence these men here look upon a quiet 
rubber as a tumultuous occupation. They wallow in 
your good chairs and think to themselves, ^Hang ex- 
ertion. Let that Marlow talk .* 

\ JS^ t^ft i» AnrTl^.^ff ^f^f fy enough to talk 

of Master Jim, after a good spread, two hundred feet 
above the sea-level, with a box of decent cigars handy, 
on a blessed evening of freshness and starlight that 
would make the best of us forget we are only on suffer- 
ance here and got to pick our way in cross lights, watch- 
ing every precious minute and every irremediable step, 
trusting we shall manage yet to go out decently in the 
end — ^but not so sure of it after all — ^and with dashed 
little help to expect from those we touch elbows with 
right and left. Of course there are men here and there 
to whom the whofeyHfe is like ar raiter-dinner "hour 

with a ciga r; easy, pleasant, emptv. perhaps en livened 

b y some fable of s trj if*^ t^ h(^ forgnttpn hf^f^ri^ t b v 9n4 i n 
t old — -b efore the end is told — even if there happens to be 
any end to it. 

"My eyes met his for the first time at that inquiry. 
You must know that everybody connected in any way 
with the sea was there, because the affair had been 
notorious for days, ever since that mysterious cable 
'message came from Aden to start us all cackling. 
I say mysterious, because it was so in a sense though 
it conta ined a nak ed fact, about as naked and ugly 
as a fact can well be. The whole waterside talked 
of nothing else. First thing in the morning as I 
was dressing in my state-room, I would hear through 
the bulkhead my Parsee Dubash jabbering about the 
Paina with the steward, while he drank a cup of 
tea, by favour, in the pantry. No sooner on shore 
I would meet some acquaintance, and the first remark 


would be, ^Did you ever hear of anything to beat 
this?' and according to his kind the man would smile 
cynically, or look sad, or let out a swear or two. Com- 
plete strangers would accost each other familiarly, 
just for the sake of easing their minds on the subject: 
every confounded loafer in the town came in for a 
harvest of drinks over this affair: you heard of it in the 
harbour ofBce, at every ship-broker's, at your agent's, 
from whites, from natives, from half-castes, from the 
very boatmen squatting half -naked on the stone steps 
as you went up — ^by Jove! There was some indigna- 
tion, not a few jokes, and no end of discussions as to 
what had become of them, you know. This went on 
for a couple of weeks or more, nnHLthp opinion thn^t 
whatever was mysterious in this affair would turn out 
to be tragic as well, began to prevail, when_q£ig..^e 
inormmg^ as I was standing in the shade by the steps of 
the harbour ofBce, I perceived four men walking towards 
me along the quay. I wondered for a while where that 
queer lot had sprung from, and suddenly, I may say, I 
shouted to myself, *Here they are ! ' 

"There they were, siu-e enough, three of them as 
large as life, and one much larger of girth than any 
Uving man has a right to be, just landed with a good 
breakfast inside of them from an outward-bound 
Dale line steamer that had come in about an hour 
after simrise. There could be no mistake; I spotted 
the jolly skipper of the Patna at the first glance: the 
fattest man in the whole blessed tropical belt clear 
roimd that good old earth of ours. Moreover, nine 
months or so before, I had come across him in Sama- 
rang. His steamer was loading in the Roads, and 
he was abusing the tyrannical institutions of the 
German empire, and soaking himself in beer all day 
long and day after day in De Jongh's back-shop, till 


De Jongh, who charged a guilder for every bottle with- 
out as much as the quiver of an eyelid, would beckon 
me aside, and, with his little leathery face all puckered 
up, declare confidentially, 'Business is business, but 
this man, captain, he make me very sick. Tf ui ! ' 

*^I was looking at him from the shade. He was 
hurrying on a Uttle in advance, and the sunhght 
beating on him brought out his bulk in a startling 
way. He made me think of a trained baby elephant 
walking on hind-legs. He was extravagantly gorgeous 
too— got up in a soiled sleeping-suit, bright green 
and deep orange vertical stripes, with a pair of ragged 
straw slippers on his bare feet, and somebody's cast- 
oflf pith hat, very dirty and two sizes too small for him, 
tied up with a manilla rope-yam on the top of his big 
head. You imderstand a man like that hasn't the 
ghost of a chance when it comes to borrowing clothes. 
Very well. On he came in hot haste, without a look 
right or left, passed within three feet of me, and in 
the innocence of his heart went on pelting upstairs 
in the harbour ofBce to make his deposition, or report, 
or whatever you like to call it. 

''It appears he addressed himself m the first m- 
stance to the principal shipping-master. Archie Ruth- 
vel had just come in, and, as his story goes, was about 
to begin his arduous day by giving a dressing-down 
to his chief clerk. Some of you might have known 
him — an obliging little Portuguese half-caste with a 
miserably skinny neck, and always on the hop to get 
something from the shipmasters in the way of eatables 
— a piece of salt pork, a bag of biscuits, a few potatoes, 
or what not. One voyage, I recollect, I tipped him a 
live sheep out of the remnant of my sea-stock : not that 
I wanted him to do anything for me — ^he couldn't, you 
know — ^but because his childlike belief in the sacred 


right to perquisites quite touched my heart. It was so 
strong as to be almost beautiful. The race — ^the two 
races rather — and the climate . . . However, 
never mind. I know wh6re I have a friend for life. 

"Well, Ruthvel says he was giving him a severe 
lecture — on official morality, I suppose — ^when he 
heard a kind of subdued commotion at his back, and 
turning his head he saw, in his own words, something 
round and enormous, resembUng a sixteen-hundred- 
weight sugar-hogshead wrapped in striped flannel- 
ette, up-ended in the middle of the large floor space 
in the office. He declares he was so taken aback 
that for quite an appreciable time he did not realize 
the thing was alive, and sat still wondering for what 
purpose and by what means that object had been 
transported in front of his desk. The archway from 
the ante-room was crowded with punkah-pullers, 
sweepers, police peons, the coxswain and crew of the 
harbour steam-laimch, all craning their necks and 
almost climbing on each other's backs. Quite a riot. 
By that time the fellow had managed to tug and 
jerk his hat clear of his head, and advanced with 
slight bows at Ruthvel, who told me the sight was 
so discompK)sing that for some time he listened quite 
unable to make out what that apparition wanted. It 
spoke in a voice harsh and lugubrious but intrepid, 
and little by little it dawned upon Archie that this 
was a development of the Patna case. He says that as 
soon as he imderstood who it was before him he felt 
quite unwell — ^Archie is so sympathetic and easily upset 
— ^but pulled himself together and shouted *Stop! I 
can't listen to you. You must go to the Master At- 
tendant. I can't possibly listen to you. Captain 
Elliot is the man you want to see. This way, this way.' 
He jumped up, ran roimd that long coimter, pulled. 


shoved: the other let him, surprised but obedient at 
first, and only at the door of the private office some sort 
of animal instinct made him hang back and snort like a 
frightened bullock. *Look here! what's up? Let go! 
Look here!' Archie flung open the door without 
knocking. *The master of the Patna^ sir,' he shouts. 
*Go in, captain.' He saw the old man lift his head 
from some writing so sharp that his nose-nippers fell off, 
banged the door to, and fled to his desk, where he had 
some papers waiting for his signature: but he says the 
row that burst out in there was so awful that he couldn't 
collect his senses sufficiently to remember the spelling 
of his own name. Archie's the most sensitive shipping- 
master in the two hemispheres. He declares he felt as 
though he had thrown a man to a himgryJ|ion. (JKTo 
doubt the noise was great. I heard it down below, 
and I have every reason to believe it was heard clear 
across the Esplanade as far as the band-stand. Old 
father Elliot had a great stock of words and could shout 
— and didn't mind who he shouted at either. He would 
have shouted at the Viceroy himself. As he used to tell 
me: 'I am as high as I can get; my pension is safe. I've 
a few pounds laid by, and if they don't like my notions 
of duty I would just as soon go home as not. I am 
an old man, and I have always spoken my mind. 
All I care for now is to see my girls married before I 
die.' He was a little crazy on that point. His three 
daughters were awfully nice, though they resemble 
him amazingly, and on the mornings he woke up with 
a gloomy view of their matrimonial prospects the office 
would read it in his eye and tremble, because, they said, 
he was sure to have somebody for breakfast. However, 
that morning he did not eat the renegade, but, if I may 
be allowed to carry on the metaphor, chewed him up 
very small, so to speak, and — ah! ejected him again. 

— *i* 



''Thus in a very few moments I saw his monstrous 
bulk descend in haste and stand still on the outer 
steps. He had stopped close to me for the purpose 
of profound meditation: his large purple dieeks 
quivered. He was biting his thumb, and after a 
while noticed me with a sidelong vexed look. The 
other three chaps that had landed with him made 
a little group waiting at some distance. There was 
a sallow-faced, mean little chap with his arm in a sling, 
and a long individual in a blue jQannel coat, as dry as a 
chip and no stouter than a broomstkk, with drooping 
grey moustaches, who looked about him with an air of 
jaunty imbecility. The third was an upstanding, 
broad-shouldered youth, with his hands in his pockets, 
turning his back on the other two who appeared to be 
talking together earnestly. He stared across the empty 
Esplanade. A ramshackle gharry, all dust and Vene- 
tian blinds, pulled up short opposite the group, and the 
driver, throwing up his right foot over his knee, gave 
himself up to the critical examination of his toes. The 
young chgPa j^gJdng jxojnQvfpip^tyjiQ t evgi stirring^m s 
head, j St^^^ared i^ ^^ t hp sunshi ne? Th is wa s my 
flrst...^^Ljd{-JBm7 I ^e looke4^as_un^ onfi^" iefr^agid 
ima pp^oachable as on^y tht* yoimg can loo k. There 
he stood, clean-limbed, clean-facea, firm^cS his feet, 
as promising a boy as the sim ever shone on; and, 
looking at him, knowing all he knew and a little more 
too, I was as angry as though I had detected him trying 
to get something out of me by false pretences. He had 
no business to look so sound. I thought to myself 
— ^well, if this sort can go wrong like that . . . and 
I felt as though I could fling down my hat and dance 
on it from sheer mortification, as I once saw the skip- 
per of an Italian barque do because his duffer of a 
mate got into a mess with his anchors when making 


a flying moor in a roadstead full of ships. Lgsked my- 
self, seeing Mm t here apparently so much a jt <*^-<gp^i« 
h e^ siny?"T^ 3ieujcSBSxgr H ^e seemed ready to ^t art 
wfil stlmglT tune. And note, 1 did not care a rap about 
the behaviour of the other two. Their persons some- 
how fitted the tale that was public property, and was 
going to be the subject of an official inquiry. 'That old 
mad rogue upstairs called me a hound,' said the cap- 
tain of the Paina. I can't tell whether he recognized me 
— ^I rather think he did; but at any rate our glances met. 
He glared — ^I smiled; hound was the very mildest 
epithet that had reached me through the open window. 
* Did he? ' I> ^d from som e fitra^gfi jj^ftKility fn h^^j, my 
tongue. He nodded, bit £is thumb again, swore under 
Ills breath: then lifting his head and looking at me with 
sullen and passionate impudence — *Bah! the Pacific is 
big, my f riendt. You damned Englishmen can do your 
worst; I know where there's plenty room for a man 
like me: I am well aguaindt in Apia, in Honolulu, 
in . . .' He paused reflectively, while without 
efiFort I could depict to myself the sort of people he was 
'aguaindt' with in those places. I won't make a 
secret of it that I had been 'aguaindt' with not a few 
of that sort myself. There are times when a man 
miust act as though life were equally sweet in any 
company. I've known such a time, and, what's more, 
I shan't now pretend to pull a long face over my neces- 
sity, because a good many of that bad company from 
want of moral — moral — ^what shall I say? — posture, 
or from some other equally profound cause, were 
twice as instructive and twenty times more amusing 
than the usual respectable thief of conunerce you fel- 
lows ask to sit at your table without any real neces- 
sity — ^from habit, from cowardice, from good-nature, 
from a hundred sneaking and inadequate reasons. 



You Englishmen are all rogues/ went on my 
patriotic Flensborg or Stettin Australian. I really 
don't recollect now what decent little port on the 
shores €A the Baltic was defiled by being the nest of 
that precious bird. 'What are you to shout? Eh? 
You tell me? You no better than other people, and 
that old rogue he make Gottam fuss with me.' His 
thick carcass trembled on its l^s that were like a 
pair of pillars; it trembled from head to foot. "That's 
what you English always make — ^make a tam' fuss — 
for any little thing, because I was not bom in your 
tam' country. Take away my certificate. Take it. 
I don't want the certificate. A man like me don't 
want your verfluchte certificate. I shpit on it.' He 
spat. T vill an Amerigan citizen b^ome,' he cried, 
fretting and fuming and shuffling his feet as if to 
free his ankles from some invisible and mysterious 
grasp that would not let him get away from that 
spot. He made himself so warm that the top of his 
bullet head positively smoked. Nothing mysterious 
prevented me from going away: curiosity is the most 
obvious of sentiments, and it held me there to see 
the effect of a full information upon that young fel- 
low who, hands in pockets, and turning his back 
upon the sidewalk, gazed across the grass-plots of 
the Esplanade at the yellow portico of the Malabar 
Hotel with the air of a man about to go for a walk 
as soon as his friend is ready. That's how he looked, 
/ and it was odious. I waited to see him overwhelmed, 
confounded, pierced through and through, squirming 
like an impaled beetle — and I was half afraid to see 
l^.,^f£>9 — ^ you understand what I mean. Nothing 
more k^ul than to watch a man who has been found 
out, not in a crime but in a more than criminal weak- 
iThe commonest sort of fortitude prevents us 




from^ beco mim^ criminals y r\ ft )pgfl.1 y*nr<»^; it is from / 
weaJbi^sJ jnknow n. but perhaps suspected, as in 
somepaHs^of the world you suspect a deadly snake 
in every bush — ^from weakness that may lie hidden, 
watched or unwatched, prayed against or manfully 
scorned, repressed or maybe ignored more than h 
lifetime, not one of us is safe. We are snared into 
doing thin^ f^j|dbicju»^^ 

for ^WBScET'we y^et hanged, and yet the spirit may weuj 
survive — survive the condemnations, survive the baiter, \ 
by Jove! A gd there are thin gs — they look smal 
enoug h sometimes to o— by w hich some dh usjg e tptftl ly 
and completely un3one. IT^ watch ed the voun^ster 
the re. I liked his appearance: 1 knew his appear - 
^g; he came from th ejig'^* r^'i^ft i ^^ W^'g ^tt^ ^flT'? 
He stood there for ail the parentage of his kind, for 

men and women by no means clever or amusing, but ^ 

whose v ery existence is based upon^ hon^_ Jaith, ^ 
and upon the instmct of courage. Idon^t mean mili- 
tary courage, or civil courage, or any special kind of 
courage. I mean just that inborn abihty to look 
temptations straight in the face — a readiness unintel- 
lectual enough, goodness knows, but without pose — ^a 
power of resistance, don't you see, ungracious if you 
like, but priceless — <^n, ii^rt^w ^J^^^g ft^d blessed stiffness 

^ inward terrors , before the nught 

orruption of men — ^backed 
Ky A ^oi*^ |pTniinf|foKi|^H/^ ^\^a. strcugth of facts, tb>4h^ 

^^ccmtagion of example^to tlie sohcitation of ideas. Hang 
^TtjEar --"TRBrTO^^ vagabonds, knocking aTthe 
back-door of your mind, pap}] tf^^^^ g & httle of your s ub- 
sta nce, each carrying away som e crumb of that beb'ef in 
a fgWL mapie notions you muj 
live Jficently and woula uketo diQ..easy! 

b efore the outwa: 




This has notEngT tTlfar^'with Jim « directly: only 


he was outwardly so typical of that good, stupid kind 
we like to feel inarching right and left of us in life, 
of the kind that is not disturbed by the vagaries 
of intelligence and the perversions of — of nerves, 
let us say. He was the kind of fellow you would, 
on the strength of his looks, leave in charge of the 
deck — ^figuratively and professionally speaking. I say 
I would, and I ought to know. Haven't I tiumed 
out yoimgsters enough in my time, for the service of 
the Red Rag, to the craft of the sea, to the craft whose 
whole secret could be expressed in one short sentence, 
and yet must be driven afresh every day into young 
heads till it becomes the component part of every 
waking thought — till it is present in every dream 
of their young sleep! The sea has been good to me, 
but when I remember all these boys that passed through 
my hands, some grown up now and some drowned by 
this time, but all good stuff for the sea, I don't think I 
have done badly by it either. Were I to go home to- 
morrow, I bet that before two days passed over my 
head some sunburnt yoimg chief mate would overtake 
me at some dock gateway or other, and a fresh deep voice 
speaking above my hat would ask : * Don't you remember 
me, sir? Why ! little So-and-so. Such and such a ship. 
It was my first voyage.' And I would remember a 
bewildered little shaver, no higher than the back of 
this chair, with a mother and perhaps a big sister 
on the quay, very quiet but too upset to wave their 
handkerchiefs at the ship that glides out gently be- 
tween the pier-heads: or perhaps some decent middle- 
aged father who had come early with his boy to see 
him off, and stays all the morning because he is inter- 
ested in the windlass apparently, and stays too long, 
and has got to scramble ashore at last with no time at 
ill to say good-bye. The mud pilot on the poop sings 


out to me in a drawl, *Hold her with the check line 
for a moment, Mister Mate. There^s a gentleman 
wants to get ashore. . • • Up with you, sir. 
Nearly got carried off to Talcahuano, didn't you? 
Now's yoiur time; easy does it. ... All right. 
Slack away again forward there.' The tugs, smoking 
like the pit of perdition, get hold and chum the old 
river into fury; the gentleman ashore is dusting his 
knees — ^the benevolent steward has shied his umbrella 
after him. All very proper. He has offered his bit of 
sacrifice to the sea, and now he may go home pretending 
he thinks nothing of it; and the little willing victim 
shall be very sea-sick before next morning. By-and- 
by, when he has learned all the little mysteries and 
the one great secret of the craft, he shall be fit to 
live or die as the sea may decree; and the man who 
had taken a hand in this fool game, in which the 
sea wins every toss, will be pleased to have his back 
slapped by a heavy young hand, and to hear a cheery 
sea-puppy voice: *Do you remember me, sir? The 
little So-and-so.' 

"I tell you this is good; it tells you that once in 
your life at least you had gone the right way to work. 
I have been thus slapped, and I have winced, for 
the slap was heavy, and I have glowed all day long 
and gone to bed feeling less lonely in the world by 
virtue of that hearty thump. Don't I remember 
the little So-and-so's! I tell you I ought to know 
the right kind of looks. I would have trusted the 
deck to that youngster on the strength of a single 
glance, and gone to sleep with both eyes — and, by 
Jove! it wouldn't have been safe. There are depths 
of horror in that thought. He looked as genuine as 
a new sovereign, but there was some infemfi ) fillpy 

How much? The least thing — the 


least drop of something rare and accursed; the least 
drop! — ^but he made you — standing there with his 
don't-care-hang air — ^he made you wonder whether 
perchance he were nothing more rare than brass. 

"I couldn't believe it. I tell you I wanted to see 
him squirm for the honour of the craft. The other 
two no-account chaps spotted their captain, and 
b^an to move slowly towards us. They chatted 
together as they strolled, and I did not care any more 
than if they had not been visible to the naked eye. 
They grinned at each other — ^might have been exchang- 
ing jokes, for all I know. I saw that with one of them 
it was the case of a broken arm; and as to the long 
individual with grey moustaches he was the chief 
engineer, and in various ways a pretty notorious per- 
sonality. They were nobodies. They approached. 
The skipper gazed in an inanimate way between his 
feet: he seemed to be swollen to an unnatural size by 
some awful disease, by the mysterious action of an 
unknown poison. He lifted his head, saw the two 
brfore him waiting, opened his mouth with an extraor- 
dinary, sneering contortion of his puffed face — to 
speak to them, I suppose — and then a thought seemed 
to strike him. His thick, purplish lips came together 
without a soimd, he went off in a resolute waddle to the 
gharry and b^an to jerk at the door-handle with such a 
blind brutality of impatience that I expected to see the 
\ whole concern overturned on its side, pony and all. 
The driver, shaken out of his meditation over the sole 
of his foot, displayed at once all the signs of intense 
terror, and held with both hands, looking round from 
his box at this vast carcass forcing its way into his con- 
veyance. The little machine shook and rocked tumul- 
tuously, and the crimson nape of that lowered neck, 
the size of those straining thighs, the immense heaving 





of that dingy, striped green-and-orange back, the 
whole burrowing effort of that gaudy and sordid mass 
troubled one's sense of probability with a droll and 
fearsome effect, like one of those grotesque and dis- 
tinct visions that scare and fascinate one in a fever. 
He disappeared. I half expected the roof to spUt 
in two, the little box on wheels to burst open in the 
manner of a ripe cotton-pod— but it only sank with a 
click of flattened springs, and suddenly one Venetian 
blind rattled down. His shoulders reappeared, januned 
in the small opening; his head himg out, distended and 
tossing like a captive balloon, perspiring, furious, 
spluttering. He reached for the gharry-wallah with 
vicious flourishes of a fist as dumpy and red as a 
lump of raw meat. He roared at him to be off, to 
go on. Where? Into the Pacific, perhaps. The 
driver lashed; the pony snorted, reared once, and 
darted off at a gallop. Where? To Apia? to Hono- 
lulu? He had 6,000 miles of tropical belt to disport 
himself in, and I did not hear the precise address. 
A snorting pony snatched him into ^ewigkeit* in the 
twinkling of an eye, and I never saw him again; and, 
what's more, I don't know of anybody that ever had a 
glimpse of him after he departed from my knowledge 
sitting inside a ramshackle Uttle gharry that fled roimd 
the comer in a white smother of dust. He departed, 
disappeared, vanished, absconded ; and absurdly enough 
it looked as though he had taken that gharry with him, 
for never again did I come across a sorrel pony with a 
sUt ear and a lackadaisical Tamil driver afflicted by a 
sore foot. The Pacific is indeed big; but whether he 
found a place for a display of his talents in it or not, the 
fact remains he had flown into space like a witch on a 
broomstick. The little chap with his arm in a sUng 
started to run after the carriage, bleating,Xaptain ! 


I say. Captain! I sa-a^ay!' — but after a few steps 
stopped short, hung his head, and walked back slowly. 
At the sharp rattle of the wheels the young fellow spun 
round where he stood. He made no other movement, no 
gesture, no sign, and remained facing in the new direc- 
tion after the gharry had swung out of sight. 

**A11 this happened in much less time than it takes 
to telL &ice 1 am^ti^dng. to int<^ slow 

speech the instantaneous effect of visual impressions. 
Next moment the haJf-caste clerk, sent by Archie to 
look a little after the poor castaways of the Patna^ 
came upon the scene. He ran out eager and bare- 
headed, looking right and left, and very fuU of his 
mission. It was doomed to be a failure as far as the 
principal person was concerned, but he approached the 
others with fussy importance, and, almost imme- 
diately, found himself involved in a violent alter- 
cation with the chap that carried his arm in a sling 
and who turned out to be extremely anxious for a 
row. He wasn't going to be ordered about — *not 
he, b'gosh.* He wouldn't be terrified with a pack of 
lies by a cocky half-bred little quill-driver. He was not 
going to be bullied by *no object of that sort,' if the 
story were true *ever sol' He bawled his wish, his 
desire, his determination to go to bed. *If you weren't 
a God-forsaken Portuguee,' I heard him yell, *you 
would know that the hospital is the right place for 
me.' He pushed the fist of his sound arm under 
the other's nose; a crowd began to collect; the half- 
caste, flustered, but doing his best to appear dignified, 
tried to explain his intentions. I went away without 
waiting to see the end. 

'^But it so happened that I had a man in the hospital 
at the time, and going there to see about him the 
day before the opening of the Inquiry, I saw in the 


white men's ward that little chap tossing on his back, 
with his arm in spUnts, and quite Ught-headed. To my 
great surprise the other one, the long individual with 
drooping white moustache, had also found his way 
there. I remembered I had seen him slinking away 
during the quarrel, in a half prance, half shuffle, and 
trying very hard not to look scared. He was no 
stranger to the port, it seems, and in his distress was 
able to make tracks straight for Mariani's billiard-room 
and grog-shop near the bazaar. That unspeakable 
vagabond, Mariani, who had known the man and 
had ministered to his vices in one or two other places, 
kissed the groimd, in a manner of speaking, before 
him, and shut him up with a supply of bottles in an 
upstairs room of his infamous hovel. It appears he 
was under some hazy apprehension as to his personal 
safety, and wished to be concealed. However, Mariani 
told me a long time after (when he canine on board one 
day to dun my steward for the price of some cigars) that 
he would have done more for him without asking 
any questions, from gratitude for some unholy favour 
received very many years ago — ^as far as I could 
make out. He thumped twice his brawny ch^t, 
rolled enormous black and white eyes glistening 
with tears: * Antonio never forget — ^Antonio never 
forget!' What was the precise nature of the im- 
moral obligation I never learned, but be it what it 
may, he had every facility given him to remain imder 
lock and key, with a chair, a table, a mattress in a 
comer, and a litter of fallen plaster on the floor, in an 
irrational state of funk, and keeping up his pecker with 
such tonics as Mariani dispensed. This lasted till the 
evening of the third day, when, after letting out a few 
horrible screams, he found himself compelled to seek 
safety in flight from a legion of centipedes. He buM 



the door open, made one leap for dc^ir life^own the 
crazy little stairway, landed bodily on Mariani's 
stomach, picked himself up, and bolted like a rabbit 
into the streets. The police plucked him off a garbage- 
heap in the early morning. At first he had a notion 
they were carrying him off to be hanged, and fought for 
liboly like a hero, but when I sat down by his bed he 
had been very quiet for two days. His lean bronzed 
head, with white moustaches, looked fine and calm on 
the pillow, like the head of a war-worn soldier with a 
child-like soul, had it not been for a hint ci spectral 
alarm that lurked in the blank glitter of his glance, re- 
sembling a nondescript form of a terror crouching si- 
lently behind a pane of glass. He was so extremely 
cahuj t|iat^' I b^an to indulge in the eccentric hope of 
hearing something explanatory of the famous affair from 
lu& pmit of view. ^Why I longed to go grubbing into 
the deplorable details of an occurrence which, after all, 
^ concerned me no more than as a member of an obscure 
/ body of men held together by a community of in- 
glorious toil and by fidelity to a certain standard of cquj 
duct, I can't explain. You may call it an unhealthy 
niirj^ffify il. you like; but I have a distinct notion I 
unshed to find something. PerhapSyjujQLQQnsciousl^jJE 
hoped I would find that something, some prdouiid and 
redeeming cause, jsome merciful explanation, some con- 
vmciii^ shadow ©ran excuse, i I sek well enough now 
that I hoped for the impossible — ^f or the laying of what 
is the most obstinate ghost of man's creation, of the 
uneasy doubt upiiuoj^ike a mist, secret and gnawing 
y like a worm, and morejbhilling than the certitude of 
\ death-j-the doubt of ttesovereign power enthroned in a 
/I fixed standard of conduct. It is the hardest thing to 
stumble against; it is the thing that breeds yelling 
panics and good little quiet villainies; it's the true 


shadow of calamity. Did I believe in a miracle? 
and why did I desire it so ardently? Was it for my own 
sake that I wished to find some shadow of an excuse for 
that young fellow whom I had never seen before, but 
whose appearance alone added a touch of personal con- 
cern to the thoughts suggested by the knowledge 
of his weakness — ^mad^ it fa thing of nqpstery 4»d 
""""tOTor-^like a hint of a destructive fate ready for 
I us all whose youth — ^in its day — ^had resembled his 
youth? I fear that such was the secret motive of 
my prying. ' F was, and no mistake, looking for a 
' miracte. The only thing that at this distance of 
time strikes me as miraculous is the extent of my 
imbecility. I positively hoped to obtain from that 
battered and shady invalid some exorcism against 
the ghost of doubt. I must have been pretty desperate 
"too, for, wilhoum loss of time, after a few indifferent 
and friendly sentences which he answered with languid 
readiness, just as any decent sick man would do, I 
produced the word Patna wrapped up in a delicate 
question as in a wisp of floss silk.; I was delicate 
selfishly; I did not want to startle him; I had no solici- 
tude for him; I was not furious with him aid" sony 
forhim: his experience was of no importance, his 
"redemption would have had no point for me. He 
had grown old in minor iniquities, and could no longer 
inspire aversion or pity. He repeated Patna? inter- 
rogatively, seemed to make a short effort of memory 
and said: 'Quite right. I am an old stager out here. 
I saw her go down.' I made ready to vent my indig- 
nation at such a stupid lie, when he added smoothly, 
*She was full of reptiles.* 

**This made me pause. What did he mean? The 
unsteady phantom of terror behind his glassy eyes 
seemed to stand still and look into mine wistfully. 



'They turned me out of my bunk in the middle watch 
to lock at her sinking/ he pursued in a reflective 
tone. His voice sounded alarmin^y stiraig all at 
once. I was sorry for my folly. There was no snowy- 
winged coif of a nursing sister to be seen flitting in the 
perspective of the ward; but away in the middle of a 
long row of empty iron bedsteads an accident case from 
some ship in the Boaj^sat up brown and gaunt with a 
white bandage'set raElshly on the forehead. Suddenly 
my interesting invalid shot out an arm thin like a 
t^tacle and clawed my shoulder. 'Only my eyes were 
good enough to see. I am famous for my eyesight. 
That's why they called me, I expect. None of them 
was quick enough to see her go, but they saw that she 
was gone right enough, and sang out together — ^like 
this.' ... A wolfish howl searched the very 
recesses of my soul. *0h! make 'im dry up/ whined 
the accident case irritably. 'You don't believe me, 
I suppose/ went on the other, with an air of ineffable 
conceit. 'I tell you there are no such eyes as mine this 
side of the Persian Gulf. Look under the bed.' 

"Of course I stooped instantly. I defy anybody 
not to have done so. 'What can you see?' he asked. 
'Nothing/ I said, feeling awfully ashamed of myself. 
He scrutinised my face with wild and withering con- 
tempLw/' Jiist so,' he said, 'but if I were to look I could 
see — ^there's no eyes like mine, I tell you.' Again he 
clawed, pulling at me downwards in his eagerness to re- 
lieve himself by a confidential communication. 'Mil- 
lions of pink toads^,. There's no eyes like mine. "Mil- 
lions of pink toads. It's worse than seeing a ship sink. 
I could look at sinking ships and smoke my pipe all day 
long. Why don't they give me back my pipe? I would 
get a smoke while I watched these toads. The ship 
was full of them. They've got to be watched, you 


know/ He winked facetiously. The perspiration 
dripped on him off my head, my drill coat clung to 
my wet back: the afternoon breeze swept impetuously 
over the row of bedsteads, the stiff folds of curtains 
stirred perpendicularly, rattling on brass rods, the 
covers of empty beds blew about noiselessly near the 
bare floor all along the line, and I shivered to the very 
marrow. The soft wind of the tropics played in that 
naked ward as bleak as a winter's gale in an old bam at 
home. * Don't you let him start his hollering, mister,' 
hailed from afar the accident case in a distressed angry 
shout that came ringing between the walls like a quav- 
ering call down a tunnel. The clawing hand hauled 
at my shoulder; he leered at me knowingly. *The 
ship was full of them, you know, and we had to clear 
out on the strict Q. T.,' he whispered with extreme ra- 

,.- -^M^yv *Aii pink. All pink — as big as mastiffs, with ^ 
an eye on the top of the head and claws all roimd their >A ' 
ugly mouths. Ough! Ough!' Quick jerks as of 

-•^•'gSIvanic shocks disclosed under the flat coverlet the 
outlines of meagre and agitated legs; he let go my 
shoulder and reached after something in the air; his 
' body trembled tensely like a released harp-string; and 
while I looked down, the spectral horror in him broke 
through his glassy gaze. Instantly his face of an old 
soldier, with its noble and calm outlines, became decom- 
posed before my eyes by the corruption of stealthy 
cunning, of an abominable caution and of desperate fear. 
He restrained a cry — *Ssh! what are they doing now 
down there?' he asked, pointing to the floor with fan- 
tastic precautions of voice and gesture, whose meaning, 
borne upon my mind in a lurid flash, made me very sick 
of my cleverness. *They are all asleep,' I answered, 
watching him narrowly. That was it. That's what 
he wanted to hear; these were the exact words that 




could calm hiin.. He drew a long breath. 'Ssh! 
Quiet, 8teadyi..'''I am an old stager out here. I know 
them brutes. Bash in the head of the first that stirs. 
There's too many of them, and she won't swim more 
than ten minutes.' He panted again. ^ Hurry up/ 
he yelled suddenly, and went on in a steady scream: 
*They are all awake — ^millions of them. They are 
trampling on me! Wait! Oh, wait! I'll smash them 
in heaps like flies. Wait for me! Help! H-e-elp!' 
An interminable and sustained howl completed my 
discomfiture. I saw in the distance the accident case 
raise deplorably both his hands to his bandaged head; a 
dresser, aproned to the chin, showed himself in the vista 
of the ward, as if seen in the small end of a telescope. I 
confessed myself fairly routed, and without more ado, 
stepping out through one of the long windows, escaped 
into the outside gallery. The howl pursued me like 
a vengeance. I turned into a deserted landing, and 
suddenly all became very still and quiet around me, 
and I descended the bare and shiny staircase in a 
silence that enabled me to compose my distracted 
thoughts. Down below I met one of the resident 
surgeons who was crossing the courtyard and stopped 
me. ^Been to see your man. Captain? I think we 
may let him go to-morrow. These fools have no 
notion of taking care of themselves, though. I say, 
we've got the chief engineer of that pilgrim ship here. 
A curious case. D. T.'s of the worst kind. He has 
been drinking hard in that Greek's or Italian's grog- 
shop for three days. What can you expect? Four 
bottles of that kind of brandy a day, I am told. Won- 
derful, if true. Sheeted with boiler-iron inside, I 
should think. The head, ah! the head, of course, 
gone, but the curious part is there's some sort of method 
in his raving. I am trying to find out. Most unusual 

■*■ "n- 

— J 


— ^that thread of logic in such a delirium. Traditionally 
he ought to see snakes, but he doesn't. Good old 
tradition's at a discount nowadays. Eh! BGar—Cl' — 

-*-■•*--■•—■ •Hill mmmmmm^lt^^'^ " <■ » -^--w^. ^^ . ; 

[a! ha! No, seriously, i""^"^ < 
never remember being so interested in a case of jim- 
jams before. He ought to be dead, don't you know, 
after such a festive experiment. Oh! he is a tough 
object. Pdur-Mid-tw«i*y ycafs of the tropics too. 
You ought really to take a peep at him. Noble- 
looking old boozer. Most extraordinary man I ever 
met — ^medically, of course. Won't you?' 

^^I have been all along exhibiting the usual polite 
signs of interest, but now assuming an air of regret 
I murmured of want of time, and shook hands in a 
hurry. *I say,' he cried after me, *he can't attend 
that inquiry. Is his evidence material, you think? ' 

"*Not in the least,' I called back from the gate- 




"The authorities were evidently of the same opinion. 
The inquiry was not adjourned. It was held on the 
appointed day to satisfy the law, and it was well 
attended because of its human interest, no doubt. 
There was no incertitude as to facts — as to the one 
material fact, I mean. How the Patna came by her 
hurt it was impossible to find out; the court did not 
expect to find out; and in the whole audience there 
was not a man who cared. Yet, as IVe told you, all 
the sailors in the port attended, and the waterside 
business was fully represented. /Whether they knew 
it or not, the interest that drew them there was purely 
/psychological — the expectation of some essential dis- 
/ closure as to the strength, the power, the horror, of 
I human emotions. || Naturally nothing of the kind could 
be disclosed. The examination of the only man able 
and willing to face it was beating futilely round the 
well-known fact, and the play of questions upon it was 
as instructive as the tapping with a hammer on an 
iron box, were the object to find out what's inside. 
However, an official inquiry could not be any other 
thing. 'Its object was not the fundamental why, but 
the superficial how, of this affair J 

"The young chap could have fold them, and, though 
that very thing was the thing that interested the au- 
dience, the questions put to him necessarily led him 
away from what to me, for instance, would have been 
the only truth worth knowing. You can't expect the 
constituted authorities to inquire into the state of a 



man's soul — or is it only of his liver? Their business 
was to come down upon the consequences, and frankly, 
a casual police magistrate and two nautical assessors 
are not much good for anything else. I don't mean to 
imply these fellows were stupid. The magistrate was 
very patient. v^Onp nf thn nsBfteioiB was a sailing-ship '7 
skipper with a reddish beard, and of a pious disposition. ! 
Brierly was the other. BigBrierly. Some of you must ^ 
have heard of Big Brierly — the captain oHhecradc^^Wg^ 
of the Blue Star line. That's the mai 

**He seemed consumedly bored by the honour 
thrust upon him. He had never in his life made 
a mistake, never had an accident, never a mishap, 
never a check in his steady rise, and he seemed to 
be^Che of those lucky fellows who know nothing of 
^miedsiQI3U^ much ljgasuiQl. «e1f i» mistrus t. At thirty-two 
"ne had one of the best commands going in the Eastern 
trade — ^and, what's more, he thought a lot of what 
he had. There was nothing like it in the world, 
and I suppose if you had asked him point-blank he 
would have confessed that in his opinion there was 
not such another commander. The choice had fallen 
upon the right man. The rest of mankind that did 
not command the sixteen-knot steel steamer Ossa 
were rather poor creatures. He had saved Hves at 
sea, had rescued ships in distress, had a gold chro- 
nometer presented to him by the underwriters, and a 
pair of binoculars with a suitable inscription from some 
foreign Government, in commemoration of these 
services. He was acutely aware of his merits and of 
his rewards. I liked him well enough, though some I 
know — ^meek, friendly men at that — couldn't stand 
him at any price. I haven't the slightest doubt he 
considered himself vastly my superior — indeed, had 
you been Emperor of East and West, you coidd not 



have ignored your inferiority in his presence — ^but I 
couldn't get up any real sentiment of offence. He 
did not despise me for anything I could help, for any- 
thing I was — don't you know? I was a n^ligible 
quantity simply because I was not the fortunate 
man of the earth, not Montage Brierly in command 
of the Ossay not the owner of an inscribed gold chro- 
nometer and of silver-mounted binoculars testifying to 
the excellence of my seamanship and to my indomitable 
pluck; not possessed of an acute sense of my merits and 
of my rewards, besides the love and worship of a black 
retriever, the most wonderful of its kind — for never was 
such a man loved thus by such a dog. No doubt, to 
have all this forced upon you was exasperating enough; 
but when I reflected that I was associated in these fatal 
disadvantages with twelve hundred miUions of other 
more or less human beings, I found I could bear my share 
of his good-natured and contemptuous pity for the 
sake of something indefinite and attractive in the 
man. I have never defined to myself this attraction, 
but there were moments when I envied him. The 
sting of life could do no more to his complacent soul 
than the scratch of a pin to the smooth face of a rock. 
This was enviable. As I looked at him flanking on 
I one side the unassuming pale-faced magistrate who 
i presided at the inquiry, his self-satisfaction presented 
1 to me and to the world a surface as hard as granite. 
\ He committed suicide very soon after. 

"No wonder Jim's case bored him, and while I 
thought with something akin to fear of the immensity 
of his contempt for the young man under examina- 
tion,, he was probably holding silent inquiry into 
his own case. The verdict must have been of unmiti- 
gated guilt, and he took the secret of the evidence 
with him in that leap into the sea. If I understand 

' ) ^■\ 


^ LORD JIM 59 

anything of men, the matter was no doubt of the 
gravest import, one of those trifles that awaken ideas 
—start into life some thought with which a man 
unused to such a companionship finds it impossible 
to live. I am in a position to know that it wasn't 
money, and it wasn't drink, and it wasn't woman. 
^IPTfTyiiix^) ^ 9 Y frb»^^ at sea barely a week after the 
end of the inquiry, and less than three days after 
leaving port on his outward passage; as though on 
that exact spot in the midst of waters he had suddenly 
perceived the gates of the other world flung open wide 

"Yet it was not a sudden impulse. His grey-headed 
mate, a first-rate sailor and a nice old chap with stran- 
gers, but in his relations with his commander the surliest 
chief officer I've ever seen, would tell the story with 
tears in his eyes. It appears that when he came on 
deck in the morning Brierly had been writing in the 
chart-room. ^It was ten minutes to four,' he said, 
*and the middle watch was not relieved yet of course. 
He heard my voice on the bridge speaking to the second 
mate, and called me in. I was loth to go, and that's the 
truth. Captain Marlow — ^I couldn't stand poor Captain 
Brierly, I tell you with shame; we never know what a 
man is made of. He had been promoted over too many 
heads, not counting my own, and he had a damnable 
trick of making you feel small, nothing but by the way 
he said "Good morning." I never addressed him, sir, 
but on matters of duty, and then it was as much as I 
could do to keep a civil tongue in my head.' (He 
flattered himself there. I often wondered how Brierly 
could put up with his manners for more than half a 
voyage.) *I've a wife and children,' he went on, 
*and I had been ten years in the Company, always ex- 
pecting the next conmiand — ^more fool I. Says he. 


just like this: "Come in here, Mr. Jones," in that 
swagger voice of his — "Come in here, Mr. Jones.** 
In I went. "We'll lay down her position,** says he, 
stooping over the chart, a pair of dividers in hand. 
By the standing orders, the oflScer going oflF duty 
would have done that at the end of his watch. How- 
ever, I said nothing, and looked on while he marked o£F 
the ship*s position with a tiny cross and wrote the 
date and the time. I can see him this moment writing 
his neat figures: seventeen, eight, four a. m. The 
year would be written in red ink at the top of the 
chart. He never used his charts more than a year. 
Captain Brierly didn't. I've the chart now. When 
he had done he stands looking down at the mark he had 
made and smiling to himself, then looks up at me. 
"Thirty-two miles more as she goes,** says he, "and 
then we shall be clear, and you may alter the course 
twenty degrees to the southward.** 

"*We were passing to the north of the Hector 
Bank that voyage. I said, "All right, sir,** wonder- 
ing what he was fussing about, since I had to call 
him before altering the course anyhow. Just then 
eight bells were struck: we came out on the bridge, 
and the second mate before going off mentions in 
the usual way — "Seventy-one on the log.** Captain 
Brierly looks at the compass and then all round. 
It was dark and clear, and all the stars were out as 
plain as on a frosty night in high latitudes. Sud- 
denly he says with a sort of a little sigh: "I am 
going aft, and shall set the log at zero for you myself, 
so that there can be no mistake. Thirty-two miles 
more on this course and then you are safe. Let's 
see — ^the correction on the log is six per cent, additive; 
say, then, thirty by the dial to run, and you may come 
twenty degrees to starboard at once. No use losing 


any distance — is there?" I had never heard him talk 
so much at a stretch, and to no purpose as it seemed to 
me. I said nothing. He went down the ladder, and 
the dog, that was always at his heels whenever he 
moved, night or day, followed, sliding nose first, after 
him. I heard his boot-heels tap, tap on the after-deck, 
then he stopped and spoke to the dog — "Go back. 
Rover. On the bridge, boy! Go on — get.'* . Then 
he calls out to me from the dark, "Shut that dog 
up in the chart-room, Mr. Jones — will you?" 

"*This was the last time I heard his voice. Cap- 
tain Marlow. These are the last words he spoke 
in the hearing of any living human being, sir.* At 
this point the old chap's voice got quite unsteady. 
*He was afraid the poor brute woidd jiunp after ifino^'^""''^ 
don't you see?' he piu-sued with a quaver. *Yes, " '-^ 
Captain Marlow. He set the log for me; he — ^woidd , 
you believe it? — ^he put a drop of oil in it too. There 
was the oil-feeder where he left it near by. The 
boatswain's mate got the hose along aft to wash down at 
half -past five; by-and-by he knocks oB and runs up on 
the bridge — "Will you please come aft, Mr. Jones," he 
says. "There's a funny thing. I don't like to touch 
it." It was Captain Brierly's gold chronometer watch 
carefully hung under the rail by its chain. 

"*As soon as my eyes fell on it something struck 
me, and I knew, sir. My legs got soft under me. 
It was as if I had seen him go over; and I could tell 
how far behind he was left too. The taflfrail-log marked 
eighteen miles and three-quarters, and four iron belay- 
ing-pins were missing round the mainmast. Put them 
in his pockets to help him down, I suppose; but. Lord! 
what's four iron pins to a powerful man like Captain 
Brierly . f "TCTSybe his confidence in himself was just 
"Sfiook a bit at the last. That's the only sign of fluster 


he gave in Iiis whole life, I should think; but I am ready 
to answer for him, that once over he did not try to swim 
a stn^e, the same as he would have had pludk enough 
to keep up all day long on the bare chance had he fallal 
overboard accidentally. Yes, sir. He was second to 
none — if be said so himself, as I heard him once. He 
had written two letters in the middle watch, one to 
the Company and the other to me. He gave me 
a lot of instructions as to the passage — I had been 
in the trade before he was out of his time — and no 
end of hints as to my conduct with our people in 
Shanghai, so that I should keep the command of the 
Ossa. : He wrote like a father would to a faxaunte 
' son, Captain Marlow, and I was five-and-twenfy 
years his senior and had tasted salt water b^ore he 
was furly breeched. In his letter to the owners — 
it was IdFt open for me to see — he said that he had 
always done his duty by them — up to that moment 
— and even now he was not betraying their confidence, 
since he was leaving the ship to as competent a sea- 
man as could be found — meaning me, sir, meaning 
me! He told them that if the last act of his life didn't 
take away all his credit with them, they would give 
weight to my faithful service and to his warm recom- 
mendation, when about to fill the vacancy made by his 
E death. And much more like this, sir. I coiddn't 
Ibelieve my eyes. It made me feel queer all over,' 
Kwent on the old chap in great perturbation, and squash- 
; something in the comer of his eye with the end of a 
Ihumb as broad as a spatula. 'You would think, sir, 
B had jumped overboard only to give an unlucky man 
V last show to get on. 'What with the shock of him 
[oing in this awful rash way, and thinking myself a 
de man by that chance, I was nearly off my chump 
i week. But no fear. The captain of the Pelion 



was shifted into the Ossa — came aboard in Shanghai — 
a little popinjay, sif,*^3ra grey cheek suit, with his hair 
parted in the middle. "Aw — ^I am — ^aw — ^your new 
captain. Mister — ^Mister — aw — Jones." He was 
drowned in scent — ^fairly stunk with it. Captain Mar- 
low. I daresay it was the look I gave him that made 
him stammer. He mumbled something about my 
natural disappointmentf-~r had better knowTrt onov thftti.^ 
his chief officer got the promotion to the Pelion — he had 
nothing to do with it, of course — supposed the office 
knew best — sorry. . . . Says I, "Don't you mind 
old Jones, sir; damn his soul, he's used to it." I could 
see directly I had shocked his delicate ear, and while we 
sat at our first tiffin together he b^an to find fault in a 
nasty manner with this and that in the ship. I never 
heard such a voice out of a Punch and Judy show. I 
set my teeth hard, and glued my eyes to my plate, and 
held my peace as long as I could ; but at last I had to say 
something : up he jumps tiptoeing, ruffling all his pretty 
plumes, like a little fighting cock. "You'll find you 
have a different person to deal with than the late 
Captain Brierly." "I've found it," says I, very glmn, 
but pretending to be mighty busy with my steak. 
"You are an old ruffian, Mr. — ^aw — ^Jones; and what's 
more, you are known for an old ruffian in the employ," 
he squeaks at me. The damned bottle-washers stood 
about listening with their mouths stretched from ear 
to ear. "I may be a hard case," answers I, "but I 
ain't so far gone as to put up with iJie si^ht of you 
sitting in Captain Brierly 's-ehair.** ^ With that Ilaiy 
down my knife and fork. "You would like to sit in 
it yourself — that's where the shoe pinches," he sneers. 
I left the saloon, got my rags together, and was on 
the quay with all my dunnage about my feet before 
the stevedores had turned to again. Yes. Adrift — 

64 ' LORD JIM 

on shore — ^after ten years* service — and with a poor 
woman and four children six thousand miles oS de- 
pending on my half-pay for every mouthful they ate. 
Yes, sir! I chucked it rather than hear Captain 
Brierly abused. JSFlef t . me his night-glass5&v-here 
they are; and he wished me to take care"tlf"ffie dog 
— ^here he is. Hallo, Rover, poor boy. Where's the 
captain. Rover?' The dog looked up at us with 
mournful yellow eyes, gave one desolate bark, and 
crept under the table. 

"All this was taking place, more than two years 
afterwards, on board that nautical ruin the Fire-Queen 
this Jones had got charge of — quite by a funny acci- 
dent, too — ^from Matherson — ^mad Matherson they 
generally called him — the same who used to hang out 
in Ha!-phong, you know, before the occupation days. 
The old chap snuffled on — ' 

"*Ay, sir. Captain Brierly will be remembered here, 
if there's no other place on earth. I wrote fully to 
his father and did not get a word in reply— neither 
Thank you, nor Go to the devil! — ^nothing! Perhaps 
they did not want to know.* 

"The sight of that watery-eyed old Jones mopping 
his bald head with a red cotton handkerchief, the 
sorrowing yelp of the dog, the squalor of that fly- 
blown cuddy which was the only shrine of his memory, 
threW. a veil ©rinexpressibly mean pathos over Brierly's 
remembered figure; the posthumous revenge of fate for 
that belief in his own splendour which had almost 
cheated his life .<^ its legitimate terrors.: Almost! 
Perhaps wholly. Who can tell what flattering view 
he had induced himself to take of his own suicide? 

"*Why did he commit the rash act. Captain Marlow 
— can you think?* asked Jones, pressing his palms 
together. *Why? It beats me! Why?* He slapped 


his low and wrinkled forehead. ^If he had been poor 
and old and in debt — and never a show — or else mad. 
But he wasn't of the kind that goes mad, not he. 
You trust me. What a mate don't know about his 
skipper isn't worth knowing. Young, healthy, well 
off, no cares. ... I sit here sometimes thinking, 
thinking, till my head fairly begins to buzz. There was 
some reason.* 

"*You may depend on it, Captain Jones,' said I, 
*it wasn't anything that would have disturbed much 
either of us two,' I said; and then, as if a light had 
been flashed into the muddle of his brain, poor old 
-■^SSSs^Jound a last word of amazing profundity. He 
blew his nose, nodding at me dolefully: *Ay, ay! 
neither you nor I, sir, had ever thought so much of 

"Of course the recollection' of my last conversa- 
tion with Brierly is tinged with the knowledge of 
his end that followed so close upon it. I spoke with 
him for the last time during the progress of the in- 
quiry. It was after the first adjournment, and he 
came up with me in the street. He was in a state 
of irritation, which I noticed with surprise, his usual 
behaviour when he condescended to converse being 
perfectly cool, with a trace of amused tolerance, as 
if the existence of his interlocutor had been a rather 
good joke. *They caught me for that inquiry, you 
see,' he began, and for a while enlarged complain- 
ingly upon the inconveniences of daily attendance 
in court. *And goodness knows how long it will 
last. Three days, I suppose.' I heard him out in 
silence; in my tiben opinion it was a way as good as 
another of putting on side. * What's the use of it? 
It is the stupidest set out you can imagine,' he pur- 
sued, hotly. I remarked tiiat there was no option. 


He interrupted me with a sort of pent-up violence. 
^I feel like a fool all the time/ I looked up at him. 
This was going very far — ^for Brierly — ^wh^i talking of 
Brierly. He stopped short, and seizing the lappel 
of my coat, gave it a slight tug. * Why are we t orment - 
ing that young chapp' he asked. TfcST qiiestioli 
chimed in so well to the tolling of a certain thought of 
mine that, with the image of the absconding ren^ade 
in my eye, I answered at once, * Hanged if I know, 
unless it be that he lets you.' I was astonished to see 
him fall into line, so to speak, with that utterance, 
which ought to have been tolerably cryptic. He said 
angrily^ J^ Why, yes. Can't he see that wretched 
skipper of his has cleared out? What does he expect 
to happen? Nothing can save him. He's done for.' 
We walked on in silence a few steps. ^WEy^SiTall 
that dirt?' he exclauned, with an oriental energy of 
expression — ^about the only sort of energy you can 
find a trace of east of the fiftieth meridian. I won- 
dered greatly at the direction of his thoughts, but now 
I strongly suspect it was strictly in character: at 
bottom poor Brierly must have been thinking of him- 
self. I pointed out to him that the skipper of the 
Patna was known to have feathered his nest pretty well, 
and could procure almost anywhere the means of get- 
ting away. With Jim it was otherwise: the Govern- 
ment was keeping him in the Sailors' Home for the 
time being, and probably he hadn't a penny in his 
pocket to bless himself with. It costs some money to 
run away. *Does it? Not always,' he said, with a 
bitter laugh, and to some further remark of mine — 
*Well, then, let him creep twenty feet underground 
and stay there! By heavens! I would.' I don't 
know why his tone provoked me, and I said, * There 
is a kind^^ courage in facing it out as he does, know- 


in gyery well that if he we nt away nobody would tro uble 

him/ 'Courage be hange d!" growled 

M^m ^J^jJtm -'■'' 

K you were to say it was a kind of cowardice now — 
of softness. I tell you what, I will put up two hundred 
rupees if you put up another hundred and undertake 
to make the b^gar clear out early to-morrow morning. 
The fellow's a gentleman if he ain't fit to be touched — 
he will understand. He must! This infernal pub- 
Ucity is too shocking: there he sits while all these 
confounded natives, serangs, lascars, quartermasters, 
are giving evidence that's enough to bum a man to 
ashes with shame. This is abominable. Why, Mar- 
low, don't you think, don't you feel, that this is abom- 
inable; don't you now — come — ^as a seaman? If 
he went away all this would stop at once.' Brierly 
said these words with a most unusual animation, 
and made as if to reach after his pocket-book. I 
restrained him, and declared coldly that the cowardice 
of these four men did not seem to me a matter of such 
great importance. ^And you call yourself a seaman, 
I suppose,' he pronounced, angrily. I said that's 
what I called myself, and I hoped I was too. He 
heard me out, and made a gesture with his big arm 
that seemed to deprive me of my individuaUty, to push 
me away into the crowd. *The worst of it,' he said, 
*i s that all you fellows h av e no sense of dig nity; you 
don^t think enough i>l.what you are supposed j&> bfe".^ 
"We had been walking slowly meantime, and now 
stopped opposite the harbour office, in sight of the 
very spot from which the immense captain of the 
Patna had vanished as utterly as a tiny feather blown 
away in a hurricane. I smiled. Brierly went on: 
^This is a disgrace. We've got all kinds amongst 


us — ^some anointed scoundrels in the lot; but, hang 
it, we must preserve pro fessumal decency or we be- 
come no better than ' 86 mSoiy ^linkers going about 
loose. We are tyniste d. Do you understand? — 
trusted! inrfflitiy, I don't care a snap for all the 
pilgrims that ever came out of Asia, but a decent 
man would not have behaved like this to a full cargo 
of old rags in bales. We a ren't an organized body of 
men,jmd thet only, tliijig tuRt hnlHa ii^ f/^frpf^pr |g 
Justus jjflflDUeifeLJJj^ajt JoBid of decency. Such an affair 
destroys one's confidence. A man may go pretty near 
through his whole sea-life without any call to show 
a stiff upper lip. But when the call comes • • • 
Aha! . . . KI . . .' 

"He broke off, and in a changed tone, *F11 give 
you two himdred rupees now, Marlow, and you just 
talk to that chap. Confound him! I wish he had 
never come out here. Fact is, I rather think some 
of my people know his. The old man's a parson, 
and I remember now I met him once when staying 
with my cousin in Essex last year. If I am not mis- 
taken, the old chap seemed rather to fancy his sailor 
son. Horrible. I can't do it myself — but you . • •' 

"Thus, apropos of Jim, I had a glimpse of the 
real Brierly a few days before he committed his reality 
and his sham together to the keeping of the sea. Of 
course I declined to meddle. The tone of this last 
*but you' (poor Brierly couldn't help it), that seemed 
to imply I was no more noticeable than an insect, 
caused me to look at the proposal with indignation, 
and on account of that provocation, or for some other 
reason, I became positive in my mind that the inquiry 
was a severe punishment to that Jim, and that his 
facing it — ^practically of his own free will — was a re- 
deeming feature in his abominable case. I hadn't 


been so sure of it before. Brierly went off in a huff. 
r-AT the time his state of mind was more of a mystery 
fto me tibin it is now. 

'*Ke^ 3ay, coming into court late, I sat by my- 
self. Of course I could not forget the conversation 
I had with Brierly, and now I had them both under 
my eyes. The demeanour of one suggested gloomy 
impudence and of the other a contemptuous bore- 
dom; yet one attitude might not have been truer 
than tiie other, and I was aware that one was not 
true. Brierly was not bored — he was exasperated; 
and if so, then Jun might not have been hnpudent. 
According to my theory he was not. I imagined he 
was hopeless. Then it was that our glances met. 
They met, and the look he gave me was discouraging 
of any intention I might have had to speak to him. 
Upon either hypothesis — ^insolence or despair — I felt 
I could be of no use to him. This was the second 
day of the proceedings. Very soon after that exchange 
of glances the inquiry was adjourned agam to the 
next day. The white men began to troop out at 
once. Jim had been told to stand down some time 
before, and was able to leave amongst the first. I 
saw his broad shoulders and his head outlined in the 
light of the door, and while I made my way slowly 
out talking with some one — some stranger who had 
addressed me casually — ^I could see him from within 
the court-room resting both elbows on the balustrade 
of the verandah and turning his back on the small 
stream of people trickling down the few steps. There 
was a murmur of voices and a shuffle of boots. 

"The next case was that of assault and battery 
committed upon a money-lender, I believe; and the 
defendant— a venerable villager with a straight white 
beard — sat on a mat just outside the door with his sons, 


daughters, sons-in-law, their wives, and, I should think, 
half the population of his village besides, squatting 
or standing around him. A slim dark woman, with 
part of her back and one black shoulder bared, and 
with a thin gold ring in her nose, suddenly began to 
talk in a high-pitched, shrewish tone. The man with 
me instinctively looked up at her. We were then just 
through the door, passing behind Jim's burly back. 

"Whether those villagers had brought the yellow 
dog with them, I don't know. Anyhow, a dog was 
there, weaving himself in and out amongst people's 
legs in that mute stealthy way native dogs have 
and my companion stumbled over him. The dog 
leaped away without a sound; the man, raismg his 
voice a Uttle, said with a slow laugh, ^Look at that 
wretched cur,' and directly afterwards we became 
separated by a lot of people pushing in. I stood 
back for a moment against the wall while the stranger 
managed to get down the steps and disappeared. 
I saw Jim spin roimd. He made a step forward and 
barred my way. We were alone; he glared at me with 
an air of stubborn resolution. I became aware I was 
being held up, so to speak, as if in a wood. The 
verandah was empty by then, the noise and movement 
in court had ceased: a great silence fell upon the 
building, in which, somewhere far within, an oriental 
voice began to whine abjectly. The dog in the very 
act of trying to sneak in at the door, sat down hurriedly 
to himt for fleas. 

"*Did you speak to me?' asked Jim very low, 
and bending forward, not so much towards me but 
at me, if you know what I mean. I said 'No' at 
once. Something in the sound of that quiet tone of 
his warned me to be on my defence. I watched him. 
It was very much lik^ a meeting in a wood, only more 


uncertain in its issue, since he could poAibly want 
neither my mxmey^uw- my Mfe"' n othing that I could 
simply give up or defend with a clear conscience. 
*You say you didn't/ he said, very sombre. *But I 
heard.' *Some mistake/ I protested, utterly at a 
loss, and never taking my eyes off him. To watch 
his face was like watching a darkening sky before a 
clap of thunder, shade upon shade imperceptibly 
coming on, the gloom growing mysteriously intense 
in the calm of maturing violence. 

"* As far as I know, I haven't opened my hps in 
your hearing,' I affirmed with perfect truth. I was 
getting a little angry, too, at the absurdity of this 
encounter. It strikes me now I have never in my 
life been so near a beating — ^I mean it Kterally; a 
beating with fists. I suppose I had some hazy pre- 
science of that eventuality being in the air. Not that 
he was actively threatening me. On the contrary, 
he was strangely passive — don't you know? but he 
was lowering, and, though not exceptionally big, he 
looked generally fit to demolish a wall. Tlie most 
reassuring symptom I noticed was a kind of slow 
and ponderous hgsita l^ion. which I took as a tribute 
to the evident sincerity of my manner and of my tpne^ 
We faced each other. In the court the assault case 
was proceeding. I caught the words: *Well — ^buffalo 
— stick — ^in the greatness of my fear. . . / 

***What did you mean by staring at me all the 
morning?' said Jim at last. He looked up and looked 
down again. *Did you expect us all to sit with down- 
cast eyes out of regard for your susceptibilities?' I 
retorted sharply. I was not going to submit meekly 
to any of his nonsense. He raised his eyes again, and 
this time continued to look me straight in the face. 
*No. That's all right,' he pronounced with an air 




otVleliMting with himself upon the truth of this 
stat tftfl c nt ' 'that's all right. I am going through 
with that. Only' — ^and there he spoke a httle faster 
— *I won't let any man call me names outside this 
court. There was a fellow with you. You spoke to 
him — oh, yes — ^I know; 'tis all very fine. You spoke 
to him, but you meant me to hear. . . .' 

"I assured him he was imder some extraordinary 
delusion. I had no conception how it came about. 
*You thought I would be afraid to resent this,' he 
said, with just a faint tinge of bitterness. I was 
interested enough to discern the slightest shades of 
expression, but I was not in the least enlightened; 
yet I don't know what in these words, or perhaps 
just the intonation of that phrase, induced me sud- 
denly to make all possible allowances for him. I 
ceased to be annoyed at my imexpected predicament. 
It was some mistake on his part; he was blundering 
and I had an intuition that the blimder was of an odious, 
of an unfortunate nature. I was anxious to end this 
scene on grounds of decency, just as one is anxious 
to cut short some improvoked and abominable con- 
fidence. The funniest part was, that in the midst of 
all these considerations of the higher order I was 
conscious of a fyftiiin trppi(1fitinTi as to the possibility 
I — ^nay, likelihood — of this encounter ending in some 
i disreputable brawl which could not possibly be ex- 
i plained, and wo uld make me rid iculous. I did not 
■- hanker after a mree days' celebrity as the man who 
got a black eye or something of the sort from the mate 
of the Patna. He, in all probability, did not care what 
he did, or at any rate would be fully justified in his 
own eyes. It took joa magiciaJl to see he was amazingly 
angry about something, for all his quiet and even torpid 
demeanour. I don't deny I was extremely desirous 



to pacify him at all costs, had I only known what to 
do. But I didn't know, as you may weU imagme. 
It was blackness without a single gleam. We con- 
fronted each other in silence. He himg fire for about 
fifteen seconds, then made a step nearer, and I made 
ready to ward oflf a blow, though I don't think I moved 
a muscle. *If you were as big as twa men and as 
strong as six,' he said very softly, *I would tell you 
what I think of you. You . . / *Stop!' I ex- 
claimed. This checked him for a second. ^Before you 
tell me what you think of me,' I went on, quickly, *will 
you kindly tell me what it is I've said or done? ' During 
the pause that ensued he surveyed me with indigna- 
tion, while I made supernatural efforts of memory, 
in which I was hindered by the oriental voice within 
the court-room expostulating with impa3sioned volu- 
bihty against a charge of falsehood? i Then we spoke 
almost together. *I will soon show you I am not,' 
he said, m a tone suggestive of a crisis. *I declare 
I don't know,' I protested earnestly at the same time. 
He tried to crush me by the scorn of his glance. *Now 
that you see I am not afraid you try to crawl out of 
it,' he said. * Who's a cur no w — ^hey?' Then, at 
last, I understood. 

"He had been scanning my features as though 
looking for a place where he ' would plant his fist. 
*I will allow no man,' . . . /^ mumbled, threaten- 
ingly. It was, indeed, a hideoiis mistake: he had given 
himself away utterly. I can t give you an idea how 
shocked I was. I suppose he saw some reflection of 
my feelings in my face, because his expression changed 
just a little. *Good God!' I stammered, *yon don't 
think I . . .' *But I am sure I've heard,' he per- 
sisted, raising his voice for the first time since the 
b^inning of this deplorable scene. Then with a shade 

|^»^^ 74 LORD JIM 

of disdain he added, 'It wasn't you, then? Very well; 

m find the other.' 'Don't be a fool,' I cried in ex- 

( asperation; *it wasn't that at all/ *I*ve heard/ he 

I said again with an unshaken and sombre perseverance. 

/ . "There may be those who could have iau^ied at 

^ hi» -pertinacity. -I^iid«-'tr--©hr^-^idSLl/TW had 

\/ never been a man so mercilessly shown up by his 

jown natural impulse. A^ single word had stripp ed 

V^^ him 

neci^sary to tKe decencies of -Our. Janer^iifiing ^ ^ 
clotmMjftltotheaecorum of our body. * Don't be 
a fool» I repeated. But the other man said it, you 
don't deny that?* he pronounced, distinctly, and 
looking in my face without flinching. *No, I don't 
deny,' said I, returning his gaze. At last his eyes 
followed downwards the direction of my pointing 
finger. He appeared at first imcomprehending, then 
confounded, and at last amazed and scared as though 
a dog had been a monster and he had never seen a 
dog before. * Nobody dreamt of insulting you/ I said. 
"He contemplated the wretched animal, that moved 
no more than an effigy : it sat with ears pricked and its 
sharp muzzle pointed into the doorway, and suddenly 
snapped at a fly like a piece of mechanism. 

"I looked at him. The red of his fair simbumt 
complexion deepened suddenly under the down of his 
cheeks, invaded his forehead, spread to the roots of 
his curly hair. His ears became intensely crimson, 
and even the clear blue of his eyes was darkened many 
shades by the rush of blood to his head. His Ups 
pouted a little, trembling as though he had been on 
the point of bursting into tears. I perceived he was 
incapable of pronouncing a word from the excess of 
his humiliation. From disappointment too — ^^Hkl^ 
knows? Perhaps he looked forward to that hammer- 


ing he was going to give me for rehabilitation, for 
appeasement? Who can tell what relief he expected 
from this chance of a row? He was naive enough to 
expect anything; but he had given hima^^lf awRy 
fo rnotto in this' ca se. He h£l bee n frank with 
himself — ^let alone with me — ^in the wild hope of arriv- 
ing in that way at some effective refutation, and the 
stars had been ironically impropitious. He made an 
inarticulate noise in his throat like a man imperfectly 
stunned by a blow on the head. It was pitiful. 

^'I didn't catch up again with him till well outside 
the gate. I had even to trot a bit at the last, but 
when, out of breath at his elbow, I taxed him with 
numing away, he said, 'Never!' and at once turned 
at bay. I explained I never meant to say he was 
running away from me. *From no man — ^from not 
a single man on earth,' he affirmed with a stubborn 
mien. I forebore to point out the one obvious ex- 
ception which would hold good for the bravest of 
us; I thought he would find out by himself very soon. 
He looked at me patiently while I was thinking of 
something to say, but I could find nothing on the spur 
of the moment, and he began to walk on. I kept up, 
and anxious not to lose him, I said hurriedly that I 
couldn't think of leaving him under a false impression 
of my — of my — ^I stammered. The stupidity of the 
phrase appalled me while I was trying to finish it, but 
the power of sentences has nothing to do with their 
sense or the logic of their construction. My idiotic 
mumble seemed to please him. He cut it short by 
saying, with courteous placidity that argued an immense 
power of self-control or else a wonderful elasticity of 
spirits — * Altogether my mistake.' I marvelled greatly 
at this expression : he might have been alluding to some 
trifling occurrence. Hadn't he understood its deplor- 


able meaning? *You may well forgive me/ he con- 
tinued, and went on a little moodily , ^All these staring 
people in court seemed such fools that — that it might 
have been as I supposed/ 

"This opened suddenly a new view of him to my 
wonder. I looked at him curiously and met his un- 
abashed and impenetrable eyes. *I can't put up with 
this kind of thing/ he said, very simply » *and I don't 
mean to. In court it's different; I've got to stand 
that — and I can do it too/ 

"I don't pretend I imderstood him. The views 
he let me have of himself were like those glimpses 
through the shifting rents in a thick fog — ^bits of 
vivid and vanishing detail, giving no connected idea 
of the general aspect of a country. They fed one's 
curiosity without satisfying it; they were no good 
for purposes of orientation. Upon the whole he was 
misleading. That's how I summed him up to myself 
after he left me late in the evening. I had been 
staying at the Malabar House for a few days, and 
on my pressing invitation he dined with me there." 



• / 



"An outward-bound mail-boat had come in that 
afternoon, and the big dining-room of the hotel was 
more than half full of people with a hundred pounds 
roimd-the-world tickets in their pockets. There were 
married couples looking domesticated and bored with 
each other in the midst of their travels; there were 
small parties and large parties, and lone individuak 
dining solenmly or feasting boisterously, but all think- 
ing, conversing, joking, or scowling as was their wont 
at home; and just as intelligently recgjtiye^of ne^ 7 
impressions as their trunks upstairs. S Henceforth TiE^T**^ 
would be labelled as having passed through this and 
that place, and so would be their luggage. They would 
cherish this distinction of their persons, and preserve 
the gununed tickets on their portmanteaus as docu- 
mentary evidence, as the only permanent trace of their 
improving enterprise. The dark-faced servants tripped 
without noise over the vast and polished floor; now 
and then a girl's laugh would be heard, as innocent 
and empty as her mind, or, in a sudden hush of crockery, 
a few words in an affected drawl from some wit em- 
broidering for the benefit of a grinning tableful the 
last fimny story of shipboard scandal. Two nomadic 
old maids, dressed up to kill, worked acrimoniously 
through the bill of fare, whispering to each other with 
faded lips, wooden-faced and bizarre, like two sumptu- 
ous scarecrows. A little wine opened Jim's heart and 
loosened his tongue. His appetite was good, too, I 
noticed. He seemed to have buried somewhere the 



opening episode of our acquaintance. It was like a 
thing of which there would be no more question in this 
world. And all the time I had before me these blue, 
boyish eyes looking straight into mine, this young face, 
these capable shoulders, the open bronzed forehead with 
a white line imder the roots of clustering fair hair, this 
appearance appeaUng at sight to all my sympathies: 
this frank aspect, the artless smile, the youthful serious- 
ness. He was of the right sort; he was one of us. He 
talked soberly, with a sort of composed imreserve, and 
with a quiet bearing that might have been the outcome 
of 4iianly.sfilf=CQntiQljL.of impudence, of callousness, of a 
.^^olpss^UmconsciousnesS^ deception. Who 

£{IP t^m i^bm'our tone we ml[ght luivenfen c^ 
ing a third person, a football match, last year's weather. 
My mind floated in a sea of conjectures till the turn of 
the conversation enabled me, without being offensive, 
to remark that, upon the whole, this inquiry must have 
been pretty trying to him. He darted his arm across 
the tablecloth, and clutching my hand by the side 
of my plate, glared fixedly. I was startled. *It must 
be awfully hard,' I stammered, confused by this dis- 
play of speechless feeling. *It is — ^hell,' he burst out 
in a muffled voice. 

"This movement and these words caused two well- 
groomed male globe-trotters at a neighbouring table 
to look up in alarm from their iced pudding. I rose, 
and we passed into the front gallery for coffee and 

"On Uttle octagon tables candles burned in glass 
globes; clumps of stiff-leaved plants separated sets 
of cosy wicker chairs; and between the pairs of columns, 
whose reddish shafts caught in a long row the sheen 
from the tall windows, the night, glittering and sombre, 
seemed to hang like a splendid drapery; The riding 


lights of ships winked afar like setting stars, and the 
hills across the roadstead resembled rounded black 
masses of arrested thimder-clouds. 

"*I couldn't clear out/ Jim began. *The skipper 
did — ^that's all very well for him. I couldn't, and X ^ 
wouldn't. They all got out ^Liaoftft way or another, 
but it wouldn't do for jpae.' J ' ^ ^ 

^^I listened with concentrated attention, not daring 
to stir in my chair; I wanted to know — ^and to this 
day I don't know, I can only guess. He would be con- 
fident and depressed all in the same breath, as if some 
conviction of innate blamelessness had checked the 
truth writhing within him at every turn. He began 
by saying, in the tone in which a man would admit 
his inability to jump a twenty-foot wall, that he could 
never go home now; and this declaration recalled to 
my mind what Brierly had said, ^that the old parson 
in Essex seemed to fancy his sailor son not a little.' 

"I can't tell you whether Jim knew he was espe- 
cially * fancied,' but the tone of his references to *my,^ 
Dad' ..was calculated to give me a notion tKat the 
good old rural dean was about the finest man that 
ever had been worried by the cares of a large family 
since the beginning of the world. This, though never 
stated, was implied with an anxiety that there should 
be no mistake about it, which was really very true and 
charming, but added a poignant sense of lives far off 
to the other elements of the story. *He has seen it 
all in the home papers by this time/ said Jim. *I can 
never face the poor old chajp/ I did not dare to lift"' 
my eyes at this till I heard Tiim add, *I could never 
explain. He wouldn't understand.' Then I looked 
up. He was smoking reflectively, and after a moment, 
rousing himself, began to talk again. He discovered 
at once a desire that I should not confound him with 


his partners in — ^in crime, let us call it. He was not 
one of them; he was altogether of another sort. I 
gave no sign of dissent. I had no intention, for the 
sake of barren truth, to rob him of the smallest par- 
ticle of any saving grace that would come in his way. 
I didn't know how much of it he believed himself. I 
didn't know what he was playing up to — if he was 
playing up to anything at all — ^and I suspect he did not 
know either; for it is my beUef no man ever under- 
stands quite his own artful dodges to escape from the 
grim shadow of self-knowledge. I made no sound 
all the time he was wondering what he had better do 
after Hhat stupid inquiry was over.' 

"Apparently he shared Brierly's contemptuous 
opinion of these proceedings ordamed by law. He 
would not know where to turn, he confessed, clearly 
thinking aloud rather than talking to me. Certifi- 
cate gone, career broken, no money to get away, no 
work that he could obtain as far as he could see. At 
home he could perhaps get something; but it meant 
going to his people for help, and that he would not do. 
He saw nothing for it but ship before the mast — could 
get perhaps a quartermaster's billet in some steamer. 
Would do for a quartermaster. . . . *Do you think 
you would?' I asked, pitilessly. He jumped up, and 
going to the stone balustrade looked out into the night. 
In a moment he was back, towering above my chair 
with his youthful face clouded yet by the pain of a 
conquered emotion. He had understood very well I 
did not doubt his ability to steer a ship. In a voice 
that quavered a bit he asked me, *Why did I say that? 
I had been "no end kind" to him. I had not even 
laughed at him when' — here he began to mumble — 
*that mistake, you know — made a confounded ass of 
myself.' I broke in by saying rather warmly that for 

•MM**:**— ^ 


me such a mistake was not a matter to laugh at. He 
sat down and drank deliberately some eoflfee, empty- 
ing the small cup to the last drop. ^That does not ' 
mean I admit for a moment the cap fitted/ he declared, 
distinctly. *No?' I said. *No/ he affirmed with' 
quiet decision. ' Do vou know wh ^^t V^' ^^Mld ^^y** 
done? Do you? And you don't think yourself 
. ""; l Ee gulped something . . . *y ou don't 
tiiink your self a — a — cur? ' .. 

"And with this— upon my honour! — ^he looked 
up at me inquisitively. It was a question it appears 
— a bond-fide question! However, he didn't wait 
for an answer. Before I could recover he went on, ^ 
with his eyes straight before him, as if readinjg^ q§,S^ 
something written on the body of the nightt -ilt is 
all in being ready. I wasn't; not — ^not then. I don't 
want to excuse myself; but I would like to explain 
— ^I would like somebody to imderstand — somebody — 
one person at least! You! Why not you?' 

was soleimirand a little ridiculous, too, as they 
always are,^ose struggl(M of ati'^diviHu^^ trying to 
.aaye from the fire liia, idea of wlSat Tiis moral identity 
i^ould be, this precious notion of a convention, only 
one of the rules of the game, nothing more, but all the 
same so terribly eflfective by its assumption of un- 
limited power over natural instincts, by the awful 
peualties„jQ|^ its failure. [He' began his story quietly 
enough. On boaxd'^thai Dale Line steamer that had 
picked up these four floating in a boat upon the discreet 
simset glow of the sea, they had been after the first 
day looked askance upon. The fat skipper told some 
story, the others had been silent, and at first it had been 
accepted. You don't cross-examine poor castaways 
you had the good hick to save, if not from cruel death, 
then at least from cruel suffering. Afterwards, with 

^ . 

V -.- * 


time to iiiink it over, it might have struck the officers 
of the Avondale that there was 'isomething fishy' in 
the affair; but of course they would keep their doubts 
to themselves. Tliey had picked up the captain, the 
mate, and two engineers of the steamer Paina sunk 
at sea, and that, very properly, was enough for them. 
I did not ask Jim about the nature oPus^feehngs during 
the ten.dftys he spent on board. From the way he 
narrated that pait I was at liberty to infer li^was partly 
stunned by the discovery he had made —the discovery 
about himself — and no doubt was at woHt taang to 
explain it away to the only man who was cap^aie of 
appreciating all its tremendous magnitude. You must 
imderstand he did not try to mininjise its importance. 
Of that I am sure; and therein Ii{% IlIs distinction. As 
to what sensations he experienced when he got ashore 
and heard the unforeseen conclusion of the tale in which 
he had taken such a pitiful part, be told me nothing 
of them, and it is difficult to imagine. I wonder 
whether he felt the ground cut from under his feet? 
I wonder? But no doubt he managed to get a fresh 
foothold very soon. He was ashore a whole fortnight 
waiting in the Sailors' Home, and as there were six or 
seven men staying there at the time, I had heard of 
him a httle. Their languid opinion seined to be that 
in addition to his other shortcomings, he was a sulky 
brute. He bad passed these days on the verandah, 
buried in a long chair, and coming out of his place 
of sepulture only at meal-times or late at night, when 
he wandered on the quays all by himself, detached 
from his surroimdings, irresolute and silent, like a ghost 
without a home to haunt. 'I don't think I've spoken 
three words to a living soul in all that time,' he said, 
making me very sorry for him; and directly he added, 
'One of these fellows would have been sure to blurt 



out something I had made up my mind not to put up 
with, and I didn't want a row. No! Not then. I 
was too — ^too ... I had no heart for it.* *So 
that bulkhead held out after all/ I remarked, cheer- 
fully. *Yes,' he murmured, *it held. And yet I swear 
to you I felt it bulge imder my hand.' *It's extraor- 
dinary what strams old uron will stand sometimes, T 
said. Thrown back in his seat, his legs stiffly out and 
arms hangmg down, he nodded slightiy several times. 
You could not conceive a sadder spectacle. Suddenly 
he lifted his head; he sat up; he slapped his thigh. 
*Ah! what a chance missed! My God! what ji chancf * ^^ 
miss^t3BS*liSa«f^^ of the last Wsseii' "^ '''"' 

'fSembled a cry wrung out by pain. 

^^He was silent again with a still, far-away look 
of fierce yearning after that missed distinction, with 
his nostrils for an instant dilated, sniffing the intoxicat- 
ing breath of that wasted opportunity. If you think 
I was either surprised or shocked you do me an in- 
justice in more ways than one! Ah, he was an im- 
aginative beggar! He would give himself a way; 
he would give himself up^ 1 could see in his glance 

darted into the night nil liig I'mPf^ Kpinfr nurrj^ nn, 

projected headlong into the fanciful realm of recklesg lj;]^ ^ 
tiftm ip flAp i rfttinnaT TTf> hnd n o Ir i inr n t o r rrrr t w h n t " ^ "'^ 
he ha d lost, he was so \mollv and naturally concer ned J^^ ^^ 
for what he had failed tft qI^^^^^^jt^ He was very far /' 

away from me who watched him across three feet of /-. 
space. Wi ^_eveiy instant he was penetrating deepe r L^^^ 
into the impossible ^orld of romantic achievemen ts, i ''•'^'^ 
H e got to me near t of it at last ! A strange look of ^f^t^^l^ 
beatitude overspread his features, his eyes sparkled ^^^^ 
in the light of the candle burning between us; he /j^yi 
positively smiled! H^Jia^ penetrft^ed t/i the v^ry ^^ 
heart — ^to the very heart. It was an ecstatic smile 



that your faces — or mine either — ^will never wear, my 
dear boys. I whisked him back by saying, *If you 
Ijad stuck to tJies^^ you mean!' 

"He turned upon me, his eyes suddenly amazed 
and full of pain, with a bewildered, startled, suflFer- 
ing face, as though he had tumbled down from a star. 
Neither you nor I will ever look like this on any man. 
He shuddered profoundly, as if a cold finger-tip had 
touched his heart. Last of all he sighed. 

"I was not in a merciful mood. He provoked one 
by his contradictory indiscretions. *It is imfortu- 
nate you didn't know beforehand!' I said with every 
unkind intention; but the perfidious shaft fell harm- 
less — dropped at his feet like a spent arrow, as it were, 
and he did not think of picking it up. Perhaps he 
had not even seen it. Presently, lolling at ease, he 
said, *Dash it all! I tell you it bulged. I was holding 
up my lamp along the angle-iron in the lower deck 
when a flake of rust as big as the palm of my hand fell 
oflf the plate, all of itself.' He passed his hand over 
his forehead. *The thmg stirred and jumped off Kke 
something alive while I was looking at it.' *That 
made you feel pretty bad,' I observed, casually. 'Do 
} you suppose,' he said, *that I was thinking of myself, 
{ with a hundred and sixty people at my back, all fast 
> asleep in that fore-'tween-deck alone — ^and more of 
/ them aft; more on the deck — sleeping — ^knowing 
nothing about it — ^three times as many as there were 
boats for, even if there had been time? I expected to 
see the iron open out as I stood there and the rush of 
water going over them as they lay. . . . What 
coul d I do — wha t ? ' 

^*1 can easily picture him to myself in the peopled 
gloom of the cavernous place, with the light of the 
bulk-lamp falling on a small portion of the bulk- 


head that had the weight of the ocean on the other 
side, and the breathing of unconscious sleepers in his 
ears. I can see him glaring at the iron, startled by 
the falling rust, overburdened by the knowledge of 
an imminent death. This, I gathered, was the second 
time he had been sent forward by that skipper of 
his, who, I rather think, wanted to keep him away 
from the bridge. He told me that his first impulse 
was to shout and straight away make all those people 
leap out of sleep into terror; but such an overwhelm- 
ing sense of his hel plessnes s came over him that he was 
mot able to produce a sound. This is, I suppose, what 
people mean by the tongue cleaving to the roof of the 
mouth. *Too dry,* was the concise expression he used 
in reference to this state. Without a sound, then, he 
scrambled out on deck through the number one hatch. 
A wind-sail rigged down there swung against him acci- 
dentally, and he remembered that the light touch of 
the canvas on his face nearly knocked him off the 
hatchway ladder. 

"He confessed that his knees wobbled a good deal 
as he stood on the foredeck looking at another sleep- 
ing crowd. The engines having been stopped by that 
time, the steam was blowing off. Its deep rumble 
made the whole night vibrate like a bass string. The 
ship trembled to it. 

"He saw here and there a head lifted off a mat, a 
vague form uprise in sitting posture, listen sleepily 
for a moment, sink down again into the billowy con- 
fusion of boxes, steam-winches, ventilators. He was 
aware all these people did not know enough to. tftkg 
intelligent notice of that strange noise^ Ihe ship of ^ 
iron, the men with white faces, all the sights, all the 
sounds*^ everything on board to that ignorant and 
pious multitude was strange alike, and as trustworthy. _ 


as it would {or ever remain incomprehensible. It oc- 
curred to him that the fact was fortunate. The idea 
of it was simply terrible. 

"You must remember he believed, as any other 
man would have done in his place, that the ship would 
go down at any moment; the bulging, rust-eaten 
plates that kept back the ocean, fatally must give way, 
all at once like an undermined dam, and let in a sudden 
and overwhelming flood. He stood still looking at 
these recumbent bodies, a doomed man aware of his 
fate, surveying the silent company of the dead. They 
were dead! Nothing could save them! There were 
boats enough for half of them perhaps, but there was 
no time. No time! No time! It did not seem worth 
while to open his lips, to stir hand or foot. Before he 
could shout three words, or make three steps, he would 
be floundering in a sea whitened awfully by the des- 
perate struggles of human beings, clamorous with 
the distress of cries for help. There was no help. He 
imagined what would happen perfectly; he went 
through it all motionless by the hatchway with the lamp 
in his hand — ^he went through it to the very last har- 
rowing detail. I think he went through it again while 
he was telling me these things he could not tell the 

"*I saw as clearly as I see you now that there was 
nothing I could do. It se emed to tjilcft p\] Ijf^ nut 
6f my hmE s! i thougnt l might just as well stand 
where I was and wait. I did not think I had many 
seconds . . .* Suddenly the steam ceased blowing 
off. The noise, he remarked, had been distracting, 
but thfi, silence at once became intolerably oppressive. 
.:"*I thought I would choke before I got drowned,* 
he s^d* 

He protested he did not think of saving himself. 



The only distinct thought formed, vanishing, and re- 
forming in his brain, was: eight hmidred people and 
seven boats; eight hmidred people and seven boats. 

"* Somebody was speaking aloud inside my head,' 
he said a little wildly. * Eight hundred people and 
seven boats — ^and no time! Just think of it.' He 
leaned towards me across the Uttle table, and I tried 
to avoid his stare. *Do you think I was afraid of 
death?' he asked in a vbice vety flerce^andTow. He 
brought down his open hand with a bang that made 
the cofifee-cups dance. *I am ready to swear I was 
not — ^I was not. ... By God — ^no!' He hitched 
himself upright and crossed his arms; his chin fell on 
his breast. 

"The soft clashes of crockery reached us faintly 
through the high windows. There was a burst of 
voices, and several men came out in high good-himiour 
into the gallery. They were exchanging jocular remi- 
niscences of Uie donkeys in Cairo. A pale anxious 
youth stepping softly on long legs was being chaffed 
by a strutting and rubicund globe-trotter about his 
piux^hases in the bazaar. *No, really — do you think 
I've been done to that extent?' he inquired very 
earnest and deliberate. The band moved away, 
dropping into chairs as they went; matches flared, 
illuminating for a second faces without the ghost of an 
expression and the flat glaze of white shirt-fronts; the 
himi of many conversations animated with the ardour 
of feasting sounded to me absurd and infinitely remote. 

"*Some of the crew were sleeping on the number 
one hatch withm reach of my arm,' began Jim again. 

"You must know they kept Kalashee watch in that 
ship, all hands sleeping through the night, and only 
the reliefs of quartermasters and look-out men being 
called. He was tempted to grip and shake the shoulder 


of the nearest lascar, but he didn't. Something held 

his arms down along his sides. He was not afraid — 

no ! only he just couldn't— that's all. He was 

not afraid of death perhaps, butJ['ll tell you what, he 

vas afraig oTjhe emergenc y. His confounded miagi- 

lation had evoked for him all the horrors of panic, the 

trampling rush, the pitiful screams, boats swamped— 

all the appaUing incidents of a disaster at sea he had 

ever Jbeard jof. — He might have been resigned to die 

""But I suspect he wanted to die without added terrors, 
quietly, in a sort of peaceful trance. A certain readi- 
ness to perish is not so very rare, but it is seldom that 
vou meet men whose souls, steeled in the impenetrable 
armour of resolution, are ready to fight a losing battle 
to the last, the desire of peace waxes stronger as hope 

Reclines, till at last it conquers the very desire of life. 
Which of us here has not observed this, or maybe 
experienced something of that feeling in his own person 
— tlns extreme we arinasa^ ^ emotions, the vg nf^y ^^ 
effort> tEe yearm n g for rest ? Those striving with 
unreasonable forces know It well, — ^the shipwrecked 
castaways injioatsj wanderers lost in a desert,.>'mSn 
h^iJ^^g^'ageLUist the unCEmking might'St"^ or 

/ the stupid brutality of crowds." 



"How long he stood stock-still by the hatch expect- 
ing every moment to feel the ship dip mider his feet 
and the rush of water to take him at the back and toss 
him like a chip, I cannot say. Not very long — two 
minutes perhaps. A couple of men he could not make 
out began to converse drowsily, and also, he could 
not tell where, he detected a curious noise of shuffling 
feet. Above these faint sounds there was that awful 
stillness preceding a catastrophe, that trying silence 
of the moment before the crash; then it came into his 
head that perhaps he would have time to rush along 
and cut all the lanyards of the gripes, so that the boats 
would float oflF as tiie ship went down. 

"The Patna had a long bridge, and all the boats 
were up there, four on one side and three on the other 
— ^the smallest of them on the port-side and nearly 
abreast of the steering gear. He assured me, with 
evident anxiety to be believed, that he had been most 
careful to keep them ready for instant service. He 
knew his duty. I dare say he was a good enough mate 
as far as that went. *I always believed in being pre- 
pared for the worst,' he commented, staring anxiously 
in my face. I nodded my approval of the sound prin- y 
ciple, averting my eyes before the subtle unsoundness 
of the man. 

"He started unsteadily to run. He had to step 
over legs, avoid stumbling against the heads. Sud- 
denly some one caught hold of his coat from below, 
and a distressed voice spoke under his elbow. The 



light of the lamp he carried in his right hand fell upon 
an upturned dark face whose eyes entreated him to- 
gether with the voice. He had picked up enough of 
the language to understand the word water, repeated 
several times in a tone of insistence, of prayer, almost 
of despair. He gave a jerk to get away, and felt an 
arm embrace his leg. 

"*The beggar clung to me like a drowning man,' 
he said, impressively. * Water, water! What water 
did he mean? What did he know? As calmly as 
I could I ordered him to let go. He was stopping 
me, time was pressmg, other men began to stir; I 
wanted time — ^time to cut the boats adrift. He got 
hold of my hand now, and I felt that he would begin 
to shout. It flashed upon me it was enou^ to start 
a panic, and I hauled off with my free arm and slung 
the lamp in his face. The glass jingled, the light 
went out, but the blow made him let go, and I ran 
off — ^I wanted to get at the boats; I wanted to get 
at the boats. He leaped after me from behind. I 
turned on him. He would not keep quiet; he tried 
to shout; I had half throttled him before I made 
out what he wanted. He wanted some water — 
water to drink; they were on strict allowance, you 
know, and he had with him a young boy I had noticed 
several times. His child was sick — ^and thirsty. He 
had caught sight of me as I passed by, and was begging 
for a Kttle water. That's all. We were under the 
bridge, in the dark. He kept on snatching at my 
wrists; there was no getting rid of him. I dashed 
into my berth, grabbed my water-bottle, and thrust 
it into his hands. He vanished. I didn't find out 
till then how much I was in want of a drink my- 
self.' He leaned on one elbow with a hand over his 


"I felt a creepy sensation all down my backbone; 
there was something peculiar in all this. The fingers 
of the hand that shaded his brow trembled slightly. 
He broke the short silence. 

^** These things happen only once to a man and 
. . . Ah! well! When I got on the bridge at last 
the beggars were getting one of the boats off the 
chocks. A boat! I was running up the ladder when 
a heavy blow fell on my shoulder, just missing my head. 
It didn't stop me, and the chief engineer — ^they had got 
him out of his bunk by then — ^raised the boat-stretcher 
agam. SomehoW I had no mind to be surprised at any- 
thing. All this seemed natural — ^and awful — and awful. 
I dodged that miserable maniac, lifted him off the deck 
as though he had been a Uttle child, and he started 
whispering in my arms: "Don't! don't! I thought 
you were one of them niggers." I flung him away, he 
skidded along the bridge and knocked the legs from 
under the Uttle chap — ^the second. The skipper, 
busy about the boat, looked round and cqjne at me 
head down, growling liks.jEL. wild>b8ftit» I flinchcNr 
no more than a stone. I was as soUd standing there 
as this,' he tapped Ughtly with his knuckles the wall 
beside his chair. 'It was a^ though I had heard it 
all, seen it all, gone through it all twenty times already. 
I wasn't afraid of them. I drew back my fist and he 
stopped short, muttering — 

"*"Ah! it's you. Lend a hand quick." 

"* That's what he said. Quick! As if anybody 
could be quick enough. "Aren't you going to do 
something?" I asked. "Yes. Clear out," he snarled 
over his shoulder. 

"*I don't think I understood then what he meant. 
The other two had picked themselves up by that 
time, and they rushed together to the boat. They 


tramped, they wheezed, they shoved, they cursed 
the boat, the ship, each other — cursed me. All m 
mutters. I didn't move, I didn't speak. I watched 
the slant of the ship. She was as still as if landed 
on the blocks in a dry dock — only she was like this.' 
He held up his hand, palm under, the tips of the 
fingers inclined downwards. *Like this,' he repeated. 
'I could see the line of the horizon before me, as clear 
as a bell, above her stem-head; I could see the water 
far off there black and sparkling, and stiU — ^still as a 
pond, deadly stiU, more still than ever sea was before 
— ^more stiD than I could bear to look at. Have you 
watched a ship floating head down, checked in sink- 
ing by a sheet of old iron too rotten to stand being 
shored up. Have you? Oh yes, shored up? I thought 
of that — ^I thought of every mortal thing; but can you 
shore up a bulkhead in five minutes — or in fifty for that 
matter? Where was I going to get men that would go 
down below? And the timber — ^the timber! Would 
you have had the courage to swing the maul for the first 
blow if you had seen that bulkhead? Don't say you 
would: you had not seen it; nobodS-SEQuld. Hang it — 
to do a SmgTiEe thai you must believe there is a 
chance, one in a thousand, at least, some ghost of a 
chance; and you would not have believe d. ^libflLdy 
wo uld have believ ed. You think me a cur for standing 
there, but what would you have done? What! You 
c an't tell — ^nobody can t ell. One must have time to 
turn round. What would you have me do? Where 
was thei^^ess in making crazy with fright all those 
people I could not save single-handed — ^that nothing 
could save? Look here! As true as I sit on this chair 
before you . . .' 

"He drew quick breaths at every few words and 
shot quick glances at my face, as though in his anguish 

t . c ■ ■ • 


he were watchful of the effect. He was not speaking 
to me, he was only speaking before me, in a dispute 
with an invisible personality, ^p ^^^tagoni gti^ ^tiH in- 

separable partn er of t^f<^ ftin'stf^npft — ^another poasesaof '^ 

o fhis soti E These were issues beyond the competency / 
of^a court of inquiry : it was a subtle and momentous / 
quarrel as to the true essence of life, and did not want a 
judge. He wanted an ally, a helper, an accomplice.r'T 
felt the risk I ran of being drciunvented, bEfided, 
decoyed, bullied, perhaps, into taking a definite part in ^ 
a dispute impossible of decision if one had to be fair ^l^j^ 
to all the phantoms in possession — to t he reputab le j^ 
that had its claims and to tlip HfqrppnfnMA fhof hnrl^p^'^ ^a 

its exigencies. I can't explain to you who haven't ^ 
seen him and who hear his words only at seconji-'hMMUN, ^ 
the mixed nature of my f eelings.<::fT[t seemed to me I was 
being made to comprehend t hg^ Inconc^^ lg^ni 
know of nothing to compare with the disconififfFoi such J*^^^ 
a sensation. I was made to look at the convention t£ S 
lurks in all trutE and on the essential sinceritylof fal 


hQQ£L tie appl3uled To au siaes ai once — ^to the sii 
turned perpetually to the light of day, and to mat side 
of us which, like the other hemisphere of tha moon, 
exists stealthily in perpetual darkness, with onlja fear- ^^ 
ful ashy light falUng at times on the ^ige. y HT^fewayeS 
me. I own to it, I own u p. The CMCcasion was ^BsSUre, 
insignificant — ^wkat you will: a lost youngster, one in a 
million— but then he was one of us; an incident fis com- 
pletely devoid of importance as the flooding of im ant- 
heap, and yet the mystery of his attitude got ho|[i of me 

as though he had been an mdividual in the ^Jrefront. 

of his kind, as if the obscure truth involved were 

itself. . . ,7^**" ''■ ' " """"' y 

TSfei^rlow paused to put new life into his expiring 




cheroot, seemed to forget all about the story, and 
abruptly began again. 

"My fault of course. One has no business really 
to get interested. It's a weakness of mine. His 
was of another kind. My weakness consists in not 
having a discriminating eye for the incidental — ^for 
the externals — ^no eye for the hod of the rag-picker 
or the fine linen of the next man. Next man — ^that's 
\^^ it. I have met so many men," he pursued, with 
momentary sadness — "met them, too, with a certain — 
certain — ^impact, let us say; like this fellow, for instance^ 
^ ^^a nd in each case all I could see was merely the huma^u^ 
u being.^^A coniounded dumucialic ^ivdilynoiT^vision 
^^ IwEi^ max be better than totainblindneSs, bnt" h as been 
iJpbf no advantage to me, I can assiirS yoii. Men expect 
one to take into account their fine linen. But I never 
could get up any enthusiasm about these things. Oh! 
it's a failing; it's a failing; and then comes a soft even- 
ing; a lot of men too indolent for whist — and a 
story. ..." 

He paused again to wait for an encouraging remark 
perhaps, but nobody spoke; only the host, as if re- 
luctantly performing a duty, murmured — 
"You are so subtle, Marlow." 
"Who? I?" said Marlow in a low voice. "Oh, 
no! But he was; and try as I may for the success 
of this yam I am missing inniunerable shades — ^they 
were so fine, so diflBcult to render in colourless words. 
Because he complicated matters by being so simple, 
too — ^the simplest poor devil! ... By Jove! he 
was amazing. There he sat telling me that just as I 
saw him before my eyes he wouldn't be afraid to 
face anything — ^and believing in it, too. I tell you 
it wasffSiLulously ii^^^ it was enormous, 

enormous! I watched Kim covertly, just as though 


I had suspected him of an intention to take a jolly 
good rise out of me. He was confident that, on the 
square, *on the square, mind!* there was nothing he 
couldn't meet. Ever since he had been *so high' — 
* quite a Uttle chap,' he had been preparing himself 
for all the difficulties that can beset one on land and 
water. He confessed proudly to this kind of fore- \ 
sight. He had been elaborating dangers and defences, 
expecting the worst, rehearsing his best. He must 
have led a most exalted existence. Can you fancy it? 
A succession of adventures, so much glory, such a 
victorious proCT'^SSTt^and^th^deetTseni^^^ 7 

crowningeyery dayof Hsjan^j^elorgot himself; ^ ,^ 
his eyes shone; and with every word my heart, searched ' . 
by the light of his absurdity, wa^ growing heavier in my 
breast. I had no mind to laugh, and lest I should smile 
I made for myself a stolid face. He gave signs of 

"'It is always the unexpected that happens,' I 
said in a propitiatory tone. My obtuseness pro- /j|^ 
voked him into a contemptuous * Pshaw!' I suppose /^ 
he meant that the unexpected couldn't touch him; \j^^^ 
nothing less than the unconceivable itself could get over 
his perfect state of preparation. He had been taken 
unawares — and he whispered to himself a malediction 
upon the waters and the firmament, upon the ship, upon 
the men. Everything had betrayed him! He had 
been tricked into that sort of high-minded resignation 
which prevented him lifting as much as his little finger, 
while these others who had a very clear perception of 
the actual necessity were tumbling against each other 
and sweating desperately over that boat business. 
Something had gone wrong there at the last moment. 
It appears that in their flurry they had contrived 
in some mysterious way to get the sliding bolt of the 






foremost boat-chock jammed tight, and forthwith 
had gone out of the remnants of their minds over the 
deadly nature of that accident. It must have been a 
pretty sight, the fierce industry of these beggars toihng 
on a motionless ship that floated quietly in the silence 
of a world asleep, fighting against time for the free- 
ing;^of that boat, grovelling on all-fours, standing 
up m despaur, tugging, pusnmg, snarling ateach other 
venomously, ready to kill, ready to weep, and only 
kept from flying at each other's throats by the fear of 
death that stood silent behind them like an inflexible 
( and cold-eyed taskmaster. Oh, yes! It must have 
been a pretty sight. He saw it all, he could talk 
about it with scorn and bitterness; he had a minute 
knowledge of it by means of some sixth sense, I con- 
clude, because he swore to me he had remained apart 
without a glance at them and at the boat — ^without 
one single glance. And I believe him. I should think 
he was too busy watching the threatening slant of 
the ship, the suspended menace discovered in the 
midst of the most perfect security — fascinated by the 
sword hanging by a hair over his imaginative head. 

"Nothing in the world moved before his eyes, 

and he could depict to himself without hindrance 

the sudden swing upwards of the dark sky-line, the 

sudden tilt up of the vast plain of the sea, the swift 

still rise, the brutal fling, the grasp of the abyss, the 

struggle without hope, the starlight closing over 

his head for ever like the vault of a tomb — the revolt 

of his young life — ^the black end. He could! By 

Jove! who couldn't? And you must remember he 

was a flnished artist in that peculiar way, he was 

^***" a gifte d poor devil with the faculty of swtft ,and f ore- 

/ ^. st dHiIg v ision, 'ine sights it showed lumTiad turned 

'■'' him into TOld stone from the soles of his feet to the 

LORD JIM .■-;*fj 97 

nape of his neck; but there was a hot dance of t houghts 
in his heady a dance oj faftie, b Tinj^ mute tj5iou g j&te|^ y^ 
whirl of awful cripple^T' ' DMn*f T Cell you He OMii^essed Jh , / 
himself before me as though 1 had the power to bmd ^^ 
and to loose? He burrowed deep, deep, in the hope of 
my absolution, which would have been of no good to 
him. This was one of those cases which no solemn 
deception can paUiate, which no man can help; where 
his very Maker seems to abandon a sinner to his 
own devices. 

*'He stood on the starboard side of the bridge, as 
far as he could get from the struggle for the boat, 
which went on with the agitation of madness and 
the stealthiness of a conspiracy. The two Malays 
had meantime remained holding to the wheel. Just 
picture to yourselves the actors in that, thank God! 
unique, episode of the sea, four beside themselves with 
fierce and secret exertions, and three looking on in 
complete immobility, above the awnings covering 
the profound ignorance of hundreds of human beings, 
with their weariness, with their dreams, with their 
hopes, arrested, held by an invisible hand on the brink 
of annihilation. For that they were so, makes no 
doubt to me: given the state of the ship, this was the 
deadliest possible description of accident that could 
happen. These beggars by the boat had every reason 
to go distracted with funk. Frankly, had I been there 
I would not have given as much as a counterfeit farth- 
ing for the ship's chance to keep above water to the end 
of each successive second. And still she floated! 
These sleeping pilgrims were destined to accomplish 
their whole pilgrimage to the bitterness of some other 
end. It was as if l^eO mnipoten ce whose mercy they 
confessed had needecl tliSr humble testimony on earth 
for a while longer, and had looked down to make a 


sign, *Thou shalt not!' to the ocean. Their escape 
would trouble me as a prodigiously ine^Iicable event, 
did I not know how tpjxgfa old iron can be — ^as tough 
sometimes as the spuit of some men we meet now and 
then, worn to a shadow and breasting the weight of life. 
Not the least wonder of these twenty minutes, to my 
mind, is the behaviour of the two helmsmen. They 
were amongst the native batch of all sorts brought over 
from Aden to give evidence at the inquiry. One of 
them, labouring under intense bashfulness, was very 
young, and with his smooth, yellow, cheery countenance 
looked even younger than he was. I remember per- 
fectly Brierly asking him, through the interpreter, what 
he thought of it at the time, and the interpreter, after a 
short colloquy, turning to the coiui: with an important 

*He says he thought nothing.* 

The other with patient blinking eyes, a blue 
cotton handkerchief, faded with much washing, 
bound with a smart twist over a lot of grey wisps, 
his face shrunk mto grim hollows, his brown skin 
made darker by a mesh of wrinkles, explained that he 
had a knowledge of some evil thing befalUng the ship, 
but there had been no order; he could not remember 
an order; why should he leave the helm? To some 
further questions he jerked back his spare shoulders, 
and declared it never came into his mind then that 
the white men were about to leave the ship through 
fear of death. He did not believe it now. There 
might have been ses]:fiL .nm o ong r' He wagged his old 
chin knowingly. Aha! secret reasons. He was a 
man of great experience, and he wanted thcA white 
Tuan to know — ^he turned towards Brierly, who 
didn't raise his head — that he had acquired a knowl- 
edge of many things by serving white men on the 


sea for a great number of years — and, suddenly, 
with shaky excitement he poured upon our spell- 
bound attention a lot of queer-sounding names, names 
of dead-and-gone skippers, names of forgotten coim- 
try ships, names of famiUar and distorted sound, as 
if the hand of dumb time had been at work on them 
for ages. They stopped him at last. A silence 
fell upon the court, — ^a silence that remained unbroken 
for at least a minute, and passed gently into a deep 
murmur. This episode was the sensation of the second 
day's proceedings — ^affecting all the audience, affecting 
everybody except Jim, who was sitting moodily at 
the end of the first bench, and never looked up at 
this extraordinary and damning witness that seemed 
possessed of some mysterious theory of defence. 

"So these two lascars stuck to the helm of that 
ship without steerage-way, where death would have 
found them if such had been their destiny. The 
whites did not give them half a glance, had probably 
forgotten their existence. Assuredly Jim did not 
remember it. He remembered he could do nothing; 
he could do nothing, now he was alone. There was 
nothing to do but to sink with the ship. No use 
making a disturbance about it. Was there? He 
waited upstanding, without a sound, stiffened in the 
idea of some sort of heroic discretion. The first en- 
gineer ran cautiously across the bridge to tug at his 

Come aA<(jLhel{U — Eml GodV^sak^A come and help!^ 
He ran back to the boat on the points of his toes, 
and returned directly to worry at his sleeve, begging 
and cursing at the same time. 

"*I believe he would have kissed my hands,' said 
Jim, savagely, ^and, next moment, he starts foaming 
and whispering in my face, "K I had the time I would 



like to crack your skull for you." I pushed him away* 
Suddenly he caught hold of me round the neck. Damn 
him! I hit him. I hit out without looking. ** Won't 
you save your own life — ^you infernal coward?" he 
sobs. Coward! He called me an infernal coward! 
Ha! ha! ha! ha! He called me — ^ha! ha! ha! • . .' 

^^He had thrown himself back and was shaking 
with laughter. I had never in my life heard any- 
thing so bitter as that noise. It fell like a blight 
on all the merriment about donkeys, pyramids, bazaars, 
or what not. Along the whole dim length of the 
gallery the voices dropped, the pale blotches of faces 
turned our way with one accord, and the silence became 
so profound that the clear tinkle of a teaspoon falling 
on the tesselated floor of the verandah rang out like a 
tiny and silvery scream. 

*"You mustn't laugh like this, with all these people 
about,' I remonstrated. 'It isn't nice for them, you 

'^He gave no sign of having heard at first, but after 
a while, with a stare that, missing me altogether, 
seemed to probe the heart of some awful vision, he 
muttered carelessly — *0h! they'll think I am drunk.' 

"And after that you would have thought from 
his appearance he would never make a sound again. 
But — ^no fear! He could no more stop telling now 
than he could have stopped living by the mere exertion 
of his will." 



I WAS saying to myself, "Sink — curse you! 
Sink!"* These were the words with which he began 
again. He wanted it over. He was severely left alone, 
and he formulated in his head this address to the ship 
in a tone of imprecation, while at the same time he en- 
joyed the privilege of witnessing scenes — as far as I can 
judge — of low comedy. They were still at that bolt. 
The skipper was ordering. *Get under and try to 
lift;' and the others naturally shirked. You under- 
stand that to be squeezed flat under the keel of a boat 
wasn't a desirable position to be caught in if the ship 
went down suddenly. *Why don't you — ^you the 
strongest?' whined the little engineer. * Gott-f or-dam ! 
I am too thick,' spluttered the skipper in despair. It 
was funny enough to make angels weep. They stood 
idle for a moment, and suddenly the chief engineer 
rushed again at Jim. 

"*Come and help, man! Are you mad to throw 
your only chance away? Come and help, man! 
Man ! Look there — ^look I ' 

"And at last Jim looked astern where the other 
pointed with maniacal insistence. He saw a silent 
black squall which had eaten up abeady one-third of 
the sky. You know how these squalls come up there 
about that time of the year. First you see a darken- 
ing of the horizon — ^no more; then a cloud rises opaque 
like a wall. A straight edge of vapour lined with 
sickly whitish gleams flies up from the southwest, 
swallowing the stars in whole constellations; its shadow 



flies over the waters, and confounds sea and sky into 
one abyss of obscurity. And all is still. No thunder, 
no wind, no sound; not a flicker of lightning. Then in 
the tenebrous immensity a livid arch appears; a swell or 
two like undulations of the very darkness run past, and 
suddenly, wind and rain strike together with a peculiar 
impetuosity as if they had burst through something 
solid. Such a cloud had come up while they weren't 
looking. They had just noticed it, and were perfectly 
justified in surmising that if in absolute stillness there 
was some chance for the ship to keep afloat a few 
minutes longer, the least disturbance of the sea would 
make an end of her instantly. Her first nod to the 
swell that precedes the burst of such a squall would be 
also her last, would become a plunge, would, so to 
speak, be prolonged into a long dive, down, down to the 
bottom. Hence these new capers of their fright, these 
new antics in which they displayed their extreme 
aversion to die. 

"*It was black, black,* pursued Jim with moody 
steadiness. *It had sneaked upon us from behind. 
The infernal thing! I suppose there had been at the 
back of my head some hope yet. I don't know. But 
that was all over anyhow. It maddened me to see 
myself caught like this. I was angry, as though I 
had been trapped. I was trapped! The night was 
hot, too, I remember. Not a breath of air.* 

"He remembered so well that, gasping in the chair, 
he seemed to sweat and choke before my eyes. No 
doubt it maddened him; it knocked him over afresh — 
in a manner of speaking — ^but it made him also re- 
member that important purpose which had sent him 
rushing on that bridge only to slip clean out of his mind. 
He had intended to cut the life-boats clear of the ship. 
He whipped out his knife and went to work slashing as 



though he had seen nothing, had heard nothing, had 
known of no one on board. They thought him hope- 
lessly wrong-headed and crazy, but dared not protest 
noisily against this useless loss of time. When he had 
done he returned to the very same spot from which he 
had started. The chief was there, ready with a clutch 
at him to whisper close to his head, scathhigly, as though 
he wanted to bite his ear — 

"*You silly fool! do you think you'll get the ghost 
of a show when all that lot of brutes is in the water? 
Why, they will batter your head for you from these 

"He wrung his hands, ignored, at Jim*s elbow. 
The skipper kept up a nervous shuffle in one place 
and mumbled, 'Hammer! hammer! Mein Gott! Get 

^^2U^P~ little engineer whimpejffijj J2ke,,a--Cliildril>ut 
broken arm and all, he turned out the least craven 
of the lot as it seems, and, actually, mustered enough 
pluck to run an errand to the engine-room. No trifle, 
it must be owned in fairness to him. Jim told me he 
darted desperate looks like a cornered man, gave one 
low wail, and dashed off. He was back instantly 
clambering, hammer in hand, and without a pause 
flung himself at the bolt. The others gave up Jim 
at once and ran off to assist. He heard the tap, 
tap of the hammer, the sound of the released chock 
falling over. The boat was clear. Only then he 
turned to look — only then. But he kept his distance 
— ^he kept his distance. He wanted me to know he 
had kept his distance; that there was nothing in 
common between him and these men — who had the 
hammer. Nothing whatever. It is more than prob- 
able he thought himself cut off from them by a space 
that could not be traversed, by an obstacle that could 



not be overcome, by' a chasm without bottom. /He 
was as far as he coiiU get from theiri^^fEe'^X^hole 
breadth of the ship. 

**His feet were glued to that remote spot and his 
eyes to their indistinct group bowed together and 
swaying strangely in the conmion torment of fear. 
A hand-lamp lashed to a stanchion above a little 
table rigged up on the bridge — ^the PcAna had no 
chart-room amidships — ^threw a Ught on their labour- 
ing shoulders, on their arched and bobbing backs. 
They pushed at the bow of the boat; they pushed 
out into the night; they pushed, and would no more 
look back at him. They had given him up as if in- 
deed he had been too far, too hopelessly separated 
from themselves, to be worth an appealhig word, a 
glance, or a sign. They had no leisure to look back 
upon his passive heroism, to feel the sting of his ab- 
stention. The boat was heavy; they pushed at the 
bow with no breath to spare for an encouraging word: 
but the turmoil of terror that had scattered their 
self-control like chaff before the wind, converted their 
desperate exertions into a bit of fooling, upon my word 
fit for knockabout clowns in a farce. They pushed with 
their hands, with their heads, they pushed for dear life 
with all the weight of their bodies, they pushed with all 
the might of their souls — only no sooner had they 
succeeded in canting the stem clear of the davit than 
they would leave off like one man and start a wild 
scramble into her. As a natural consequence the boat 
would swing in abruptly, driving them ba<*k, helpless 
and jostUng against each other. They would stand 
nonplussed for a while, exchanging in fierce whispers all 
the infamous names they could call to mind, and go at 
it again. Three times this occurred. He described 
it to me with morose thoughtfulness. He hadn't 


lost a single movement of that comic business. *I 
loathed them. I hated them. I had to look at all 
that,' he said without emphasis, turning upon me a 
sombrely watchful glance. * Was ever there any one 
so shamefully .tiied!/. 

^^He took his head in his hands for a moment, like 
a man driven to distraction by some unspeakable 
outrage. These were things he could not explain to 
the court — ^and not even to me; but I would have 
been little fitted for the reception of his confidences 
had I not been able at times to understand the pauses 
between the words. In this assault upon his forti- 
tude there was the jeering intention of a spiteful and 
vile vengeance; there was an element of burlesque in 
his ordeal— a degradation of funny grimaces in the 
approach of death or dishonour. 

"He related facts which I have not forgotten, but 
at this distance of time I couldn't recall his very 
words: I only remember that he managed wonder- 
fully to convey the brooding rancour of his mind 
into the bare recital of events. Twice, he told me, 
he shut his eyes in the certitude that the end was upon 
him already, and twice he had to open them again. 
Each time he noted the darkening of the great still- 
ness. The shadow of the silent cloud had fallen upon 
the ship from the zenith, and seemed to have extin- 
guished every sound of her teeming life. He could no 
longer hear the voices under the awnings. He told me 
that each time he closed his eyes a flash of thought 
showed him that crowd of bodies, laid out for death, as 
plain as daylight. When he opened them, it was to 
see the dim struggle of four men fighting like mad with a 
stubborn boat. *They would fall back before it time 
after time, stand swearing at each other, and suddenly 
make another rush in a bunch. . . . Enough to 


make you die laughing/ he commented with downcast 
eyes; then raising them for a moment to my face with a 
dismal smile, *I ought to have a merry life of it, by God! 
for I shall see that funny sight a good many times 
yet before I die/ His eyes fell again. *See and 
hear. . . . See and hear/ he repeated twice, at long 
intervals, fiUed by vacant staring. 

**He roused himself. 

"*I made up my mind to keep my eyes shut,* he 
said, *and I couldn't. I couldn't, and I don't care 
who knows it. Let them go through that kind of 
thing before they talk. Just let them — and do better 
— that's all. The second time my eyelids flew open 
and my mouth too. I had felt the ship move. She 
just dipped her bows — ^and lifted them gently — and 
slow! everlastingly slow; and ever so little. She hadn't 
done that much for days. The cloud had raced ahead, 
and this first swell seemed to travel upon a sea of lead. 
There was no life in that stir. It managed, though, to 
knock over something in my head. What would you 
have done? You are sure of yourself — ^aren't you? 
What would you do if you felt now — ^this minute — the 
house here move, just move a Uttle under your chair. 
Leap! By heavens! you would take one spring from 
where you sit and land in that clump of bushes yonder.* 

**He flung his arm out at the night beyond the 
stone balustrade. I held my peace. He looked at 
me very steadily, very severe. There could be no 
mistake: I was being bullied now, and it behoved 
me to make no sign lest by a gesture or a word I should 
be drawn into a fatal admission about myself which 
would have had some bearing on the case. I was 
not disposed to take any risk of that sort. Don't 
forget I had him before me, and really he was too 
much like one of us not to be dangerous. But if you 


want to know I don't mind telling you that I did, 
with a rapid glance, estimate the distance to the 
mass of denser blackness in the middle of the grass 
plot before the verandah. He exaggerated. I would 
have landed short by several feet — ^and that's the 
only thing of which I am fairly certain. 

''The last moment had come, as he thought, and 
he did not move. His feet remained glued to the 
planks if his thoughts were knocking about loose 
in his head. It was at this moment, too, that he saw 
one of the men around the boat step backwards sud- 
denly, clutch at the air with raised arms, totter and 
collapse. He didn't exactly fall, he only slid gently 
into a sitting posture, all hunched up and with his 
shoulders propped against the side of the engine- 
room skylight. 'That was the donkey-man. A hag- 
gard, white-faced chap with a ragged moustache. 
Acted third engineer,' he explamed. 

"'Dead,' I said. We had heard something of that 
in court. 

"'So they say,' he pronounced with sombre indif- 
ference. 'Of course I never knew. Weak heart. 
The man had been complaining of being out of sorts 
for some time before. Excitement. Over-exertion. 
Devil only knows. Ha! ha! ha! It was easy to see 
he did not want to die either. Droll, isn't it? May 
I be shot if he hadn't been fooled into killing himself! 
Fooled — ^neither more nor less. Fooled into it, by 
heavens! just as I . • . Ah! If he had only kept 
still; if he had only told them to go to the devil when 
they came to rush him out of his bimk because the 
ship was sinking! If he had only stood by with 
his hands in his pockets and called them names ! ' 

*'He got up, shook his fist, glared at me, and sat 


*A chance missed, eh?' I murmured. 
*Why don't you laugh?' he said. *A joke hatched 
in hell. Weak heart! ... I wish sometimes mine 
had been/ 

"This irritated me. *Do you?* I exclaimed with 
deep-rooted irony. *YesI Can't you understand?' 
he cried. *I don't know what more you could wish 
for,' I said, angrily. He gave me an utterly uncom- 
prehending glance. This shaft had also gone wide 
of the mark, and he was not the man to bother about 
stray arrows. Upon my word, he was too imsuspect- 
ing; he was not fair game. I was glad that my missile 
had been thrown away, — ^that he had not even heard 
the twang of the bow. 

"Of course he could not know at the time the man 
was dead. The next minute — his last on board — 
was crowded with a tumult of events and sensations 
which beat about him like the sea upon a rock. I 
use the simile advisedly, because from his relation I 
am forced to believe he had preserved through it all 
a strange illusion of passiveness, as though he had 
not acted but had suffered himself to be handled by 
the infernal powers who had selected him for the 
victim of their practical joke. The first thing that 
came to him was the grinding surge of the heavy 
davits swinging out at last — a jar which seemed to 
enter his body from the deck through the soles of his 
feet, and travel up his spine to the crown of his head. 
Then, the squall being very near now, another and a 
heavier swell lifted the passive hull in a threatening 
heave that checked his breath, while his brain and 
his heart together were pierced as with daggers by 
panic-stricken screams. *Let go! For God's sake, 
let go! Let go! She's going.' Following upon that 
the boat-falls ripped through the blocks, and a lot 


of men began to talk in startled tones under the awn- 
ings. *Wlien these beggars did break out, their 
yelps were enough to wake the dead/ he said. Next 
after the splashing shock of the boat literally dropped 
in the water, came the hollow noises of stamping 
and tumbUng in her, mingled with confused shouts: 
* Unhook! Unhook! Shove! Unhook! Shove for your 
life! Here's the squall down on us. . . / He 
heard, high above his head, the faint muttering of 
the wind; he heard below his feet a cry of pain. A 
lost voice alongside started cursing a swivel hook. 
The ship began to buzz fore and aft like a disturbed 
hive, and, as quietly as he was telling me all of this 
— ^because just then he was very quiet in attitude, in 
face, in voice — ^he went on to say without the slightest 
warning as it were, *I stumbled over his legs.* 

**This was the first I heard of his having moved 
at all. I could not restrain a grunt of surprise. Some- 
thing had started him off at last, but of the exact mo- 
ment, of the cause that tore him out of his immobiUty, 
he knew no more than the uprooted tree knows of the 
wind that laid it low. All this had come to him: the 
sounds, the sights, the legs of the dead man — ^by Jove! 
The infernal joke was being crammed deviUshly down 
his throat, but — ^look you — ^he was not going to admit of 
any sort of swallowing motion in his gullet. It's 
extraordinary how he could cast upon you the spirit of 
his illusion. I Ustened as if to a tale of black magic at 
work upon a corpse. 

"*He went over sideways, very gently, and this 
is the last thing I remember seeing on board,' he con- 
tinued. *I did not care what he did. It looked 
as though he were picking himself up: I thought he 
was picking himself up, of course: I expected him to 
bolt past me over the rail and drop into the boat 


alter the others. I could hear them knocking about, 
down there, and a voice as if crying up a shaft called 
out "George." Then three voices together raised 
a yell. They came to me separately: one bleated, 
another screamed, one howled. Ough ! ' 

"He shivered a Kttle, and I beheld him rise slowly 
as if a steady hand from above had been puUing him 
out of the chair by his hair. Up, slowly — to his full 
height, and when his knees had locked stiff the hand 
let him go, and he swayed a Uttle on his feet. There 
was a suggestion of awful stillness in his face, in his 
movements, in his very voice when he said *They 
shouted* — ^and involuntarily I pricked up my ears 
for the ghost of that shout that would be heard directly 
through the false effect of silence. * There were eight 
hundred people in that ship,* he said, impaling me to 
the back of my seat with an awful blank stare. 'Eight 
Jmndred living people, and they were yelling after the 
one dead man to come down and be saved. "Jump, 
Genrf ^ef JlimpI VJ^t jnTn]T^** I stood by with my 
[and on the davit. I was very quiet. It had come 
over pitch dark. You could see neither sky nor sea. I 
heard the boat alongside go bump, bump, and not 
another sound down there for a while, but the ship 
imder me was full of talking noises. Suddenly the 
skipper howled, "Mein Gott! The squall! The 
squidl! Shove off!" With the first hiss of rain, and 
the first gust of wind, they screamed, "Jump, George! 
We'll catch you! Jiunp!" The ship began a slow 
plunge; the rain swept over her like a broken sea; 
my cap flew off my head; my breath was driven back 
into my throat. I heard as if I had been on the top of 
a tower another wild screech, " Geo-o-o-orge ! Oh, 
jump!" She was going down, down, head first imder 
me* • • 



"He raised his hand deliberately to his face, and 
made picking motions with his fingers as though he 
had been bothered with cobwebs, and afterwards he 
looked into the open palm for quite half a second 
before he blurted out — 

" * I l^^j^pjTnp^^ .* He checked himself, averted 

his gaze. . . . *It seems,' he added. 

"His clear blue eyS*TuKied to me with a piteous 
stare, and looking at him standing before me, dum- 
founded and hurt, I was oppressed by a sad sense 
of resigned wisdom, mingled with the amused and 
profound pity of an old man helpless before a childish 
disaster. . . 
"^ '"^Xooks like it,' I muttered. 

"*I knew nothing about it till I looked up,* he 
explained, hastily. And that's possible, too. You 
had to listen to him as you would to a small boy in 
trouble. He didn't know. It had happened some- 
how. It would never happen again. He had landed 
partly on somebody and fallen across a thwart. He 
felt as though all his ribs on his left side must be 
broken; then he rolled over, and saw vaguely the 
ship he had deserted uprising above him, with the 
red side-Ught glowing large in the rain like a fire on 
the brow of a hill seen through a mist. ^She seemed 
higher than a wall; she loomed like a cliff over the 
boat. ... I wished I could die,' he cried. * There 
was no going 15ack.' It was as if L had, jumped intQ . 
a well— into an everlasting deep hole. • • 







**He locked his fingers together and tore them apart. 
NotbJpg Cftuldjbg jmore tme/lSieTiad mdeed jumped 
into an everlasting deep hole. \ He had tumbled 
from a h^ght he could never scale again^ By that 
fSoae the boat had gone driving forward past the bows. 
It was too dark just then for them to see each other, 
and, moreover, they were blinded and half drowned 
with rain. He told me it was like being swept by a 
flood through a cavern. They turned their backs to 
the squall; the skipper, it seems, got an oar over the 
stem to keep the boat before it, and for two or three 
minutes the end of the world had come through a 
deluge in a pitchy blackness. The sea hissed 'like 
twenty thousand kettles.' That's his simile, not mine. 
I fancy there was not much wind after the first gust; 
and he himself had admitted at the inquiry that the sea 
never got up that night to any extent. He crouched 
down in the bows and stole a furtive glance back. 
He saw just one yellow gleam of the masthead light 
high up and blurred like a last star ready to dissolve. 
*It terrified me to see it still there,' he said. That's 
what he said. What terrified him was the thought that 
the drowning was not over yet. No doubt he wanted to 
be done with that abomination as quickly as possible. 
Nobody in the boat made a sound. In the dark she 
seemed to fly, but of course she could not have had much 
way. Then the shower swept ahead, and the great, 
distracting, hissing noise followed the rain into distance 
and died out. There was nothing to be heard then but 



the slight wash about the boat's sides. Somebody's 
teeth were chattering violently. A hand touched his 
back. A faint voice said, *You there?* Another cried 
out, shakily, * She's gone!' and they all stood up to- 
gether to look astern. They saw no Ughts. All 
was black. A thin cold drizzle was driving into 
their faces. The boat lurched slightly. The teeth 
chattered faster, stopped, and began again twice 
before the man could master his shiver suflSciently to 
say, *Ju-ju-st in ti-ti-me. . . . Brrrr.' He recog- 
nised the voice of the chief engineer saying surlily, 
*I saw her go down. I happened to turn my head.* 
The wind had dropped almost completely. 

"They watched in the dark with their heads half 
tiu-ned to windward as if expecting to hear cries. 
At first he was thankful the night had covered up 
the scene before his eyes, and then to know of it and 
yet to have seen and heard nothing appeared some- 
how the culminating-point of an awful misfortune. 
* Strange, isn't it?' he murmured, interrupting him- 
self in his disjointed narrative, 

"It did not seem so strange Jtame._/B[e must have 

'-. ' had an unconscious conviction that tne reality could 

not be half as bad, not half as anguishing, appalling, 

i and vengeful as the created terror of his imagina- 

/ t ion. ( T believe' that; in this first moment, his heart 

^'"was wrung with all the suffering, that his soul knew 

the accumulated savour of all the fear, all the horror, 

all the despair of eight hundred human beings pounced 

upon in the night by a sudden and violent death, 

else why should he have said, *It seemed to me that 

I must jump out of that accursed boat and swim back 

to see — ^half a mile — more — any distance — to the very 

spot ... '? Why this impulse? Do you see the 

significance? Why back to the very spot? Why not 


drown alongside — ^if he meant drowning? why back to 
the very spot, to see — ^as if his imagination had to be 
soothed by the assurance that all was over before death 
could bring relief? I defy any one of you to ofl[gr 
another explanation. It was one of those bizarr^ 
(jand exciting glimpses through the fogj^lt was an 
extraordinary disclosure. He let it out as the most 
natural thing one could say. He fought down that 
impulse and then he became conscious of the silence. 
He mentioned this to me. A silence of the sea, of 
the sky, merged into one indefinite immensity still 
as death aroimd these saved, palpitating lives. ^You 
might have heard a pin drop in the boat,' he said 
with a queer contraction of his lips, like a man trying 
to master his sensibilities while relating some ex- 
tremely moving fact. A silence! God alone, who 
had willed him as he was, knows what he made of 
it in his heart. ^I didn't think any spot on earth 
could be so still,' he said. *You couldn't distinguish 
the sea from the sky; there was nothing to see and 
nothing to hear. Not a glinnner, not a shape, not a 
sound. You could have believed that every bit of 
dry land had gone to the bottom; that every man on 
earth but I and these beggars in the boat had got 
drowned.' He leaned over the table with his knuckles 
propped amongst coffee-cups, liqueur-glasses, cigar- 
ends. *I seemed to believe it. Everything was gone 
and — ^all was over . . .' he fetched a deep sigh 
... * with me.' " 

Marlow sat up abruptly and flung away his cheroot 
with force. It made a darting red trail like a toy 
rocket fired through the drapery of creepers. Nobody 

"Hey, what do you think of it?" he cried with 
sudden animation. "Wasn't Jbie tnie .to.^ himself , 



wasn't he? His saved life was over for want of ground 
liSHeiTisTeet, for want of sights for his eyes, for want of 
voices in his ears. Annihilation — ^hey! And all the 
time it was only a clouded sky, a sea that did not break, 
the air that did not stir. Only a night; only a silence. 
"It lasted for a while, and then they were sud- 
denly and unanimously moved to make a noise over 
their escape. *I knew from the first she would go.' 
*Not a minute too soon.' *A narrow squeak, b'gosh!' 
He said nothing, but the breeze that had dropped 
came back, a gentle draught freshened steadily, and 
the sea joined its murmiuing voice to this talkative 
reaction succeeding the dumb moments of awe. She 
was gone! She was gone! Not a doubt of it. No- 
body could have TielpedT "TBSy^lrepeatec^^ same 
words over and over again as though they couldn't 
stop themselves. Never doubted she would go. The 
lights were gone. No mistake. The lights were 
gone. Couldn't expect anything else. She had to 
go. . . . He noticed that they talked as though 
they had left behind them nothing but an empty 
ship. They concluded she would not have been 
long when she once started. It seemed to cause them 
some sort of satisfaction. They assured each other 
that she couldn't have been long about it — *Just 
shot down like a flat-iron.' The chief engineer de- 
clared that the masthead light at the moment of 
sinking seemed to drop *like a lighted match you 
throw down.' At this the second laughed hysterically. 
*I am g-g-glad, I am gla-a-a-d.' His teetili went on 
^like an electric rattle,' said Jim, ^and all at once he 
began to cry. He wept and blubbered like a child, 
catching his breath and sobbing. "Oh, dear! oh, dear! 
oh, dear!" He would be quiet for a while and start 
suddenly, "Oh, my poor arm! oh, my poor a-a-a-arm!" 




I felt I could knock him down. Some of them sat in the 
stem-sheets. I could just make out their shapes. 
Voices came to me, mumble, mumble, grunt, grunt. 
All this seemed very hard to bear. I was cold, too. 
And I could do nothing. I thought that if I moved I 
would have to go over the side and . . .' 

"His hand groped stealthily, came in contact with 
a liqueur-glass, and was withdrawn suddenly as if it 
had touched a red-hot coal. I pushed the bottle 
slightly. * Won't you have some more?' I asked. 
He looked at me angrily. * Don't you think I can tell 
you what there is to tell without screwing myself up?' 
he asked. The squad of globe-trotters had gone to bed. 
We were alone but for a vague white form erect in the 
shadow, that, being looked at, cringed forward, hesitated, 
backed away silently. It was getting late, but I did 
not hurry my guest. 

"In tlie midst of his forlorn state he heard his 
companions begin to abuse some one. ^What kept 
you from jumping, you lunatic?' said a scolding 
voice. The chief engineer left the stem-sheets, and 
could be heard clambering forward as if with hostile 
intentions against *the greatest idiot that ever was.' 
The skipper shouted with rasping effort offensive 
epithets from where he sat at the oars. He lifted his 
head at that uproar, and heard the name ^George,' 
whil e a hand in the dark struck him on the breast. 
*What have you got to say for yourself, you fool?' 
queried somebody, with a sort of virtuous fury. *They 
were after me,' he said. *They were abusing me — 
abusing me. . • by the name of Ge orge^ 

"**He paused to stare, tneil^o smile, turned his eyes 
away and went on. *That little second puts his head 
right under my nose, "Why, it's that blasted mate!" 
"What!" howls the skipper from the other end of 



the boat. "No!" shrieks the chief. And he, too, 
stopped to look at my face.' 

"The wind had left the boat suddenly. The rain 
began to fall again, and the soft, uninterrupted, a 
little mysterious sound with which the sea receives a 
shower arose on all sides in the night. *They were 
too taken aback to say anything more at first,' he 
narrated steadily, *and what could I have to say to 
them?' He faltered for a moment, and made an 
effort to go on. ^Th^y /^gjlgd me horrible names.^ ""7 

LS voice, smking to a whisper, now and then would 
leap up suddenly, hardened by the passion of scorn, 
as though he had been talking of secret abominations. 
*Never mind what they called me,' he said, grimly. 
*I coidd hear hate in their voices. A good thing, too. 
They could not forgive me for being in that boat. 
They hated it. It made them mad. . . .' He 
laughed short. . . . *But it kept me from — ^Look! 
I was sitting with my arms crossed, on the gunwale! 
. . .' He perched himself smartly on the edge of the 
table and crossed his arms. . . . *Like this — see? 
One Uttle tilt backwards and I would have been gone 
— after the others. One Kttle tilt — ^the least bit — ^the 
least bit.' He frowned, and tapping his forehead 
with the tip of his middle finger, *It was there all the 
time,' he said, impressively. *A11 the time — ^that 
notion. And the rain — cold, thick, cold as melted 
snow — colder — on my thin cotton clothes — ^I'U never 
be so cold again in my life, I know. And the sky 
was black, too — all black. Not a star, not a light any- 
where. Nothing outside that confounded boat and 
those two yapping before me like a couple of mean 
mongrels at a tree'd thief. Yap! yap! "What you 
doing here? You're a fine sort! Too much of a 
bloomin' gentleman to put his hand to it. Come out of 


your trance, did you? To sneak in? Did you? " Yap ! 

yap! "You ain't fit to live!" Yap! yap! Two of 

them together trying to out-bark each other. The 

other would bay from the stem through the rain — 

couldn't see him — couldn't make out — some of his 

filthy jargon. Yap! yap! Bow-ow-ow-ow-ow! Yap! 

^^ygBtJ/ It was sweet to hear them; it kept me alive, 

J itell you. It saved my life. At it they went, as if 

/ trying to drive me overboard with the noise! . . . 

^ - "I wonder you had pluck enough to jump. You ain't 

wanted here. If I had known who it was, I would 

have tipped you over — ^you skimk. What have you 

done with the other? J^ere did you get the pluck to 

jump— you cowayd? Whatsis to privSatlirtlnPCe-irom 

mring you overboard?" . . • They were out of 

breath; the shower passed away upon the sea. Then 

nothing. ^ There was nothing roimd the boat, not even a 

sound.^/Wanted to see me overboard, did they? Upon 

r " ffiy soul! I think they woidd have had their wish if 

I they had only kept quiet. Fire me overboard ! Would 

they? "Try," I said. "I woidd for twopence." 

"Too good for you," they screeched together. It was 

so dark that it was only when one or the other of them 

moved that I was quite sure of seeing him. By 

heavens! I only wish they had tried.' 

"I coiddn't help exclaiming, *What an extraordinary 

" *Not bad — eh? ' he said, as if in some sort astounded. 
*They pretended to think I had done away with that 
donkey-man for some reason or other. Why should I? 
And how the devil was I to know? Didn't I get some- 
how into that boat? into that boat — ^I . . •' The 
muscles round his lips contracted into an imconscious 
grimace that tore through the mask of his usual ex- 
pression — something violent, short-lived, and illuminat- 






ing like a twist of lightning that admits the eye for an 
instant into the secret convolutions of a cloud. *I did. 
I was plainly there with them — ^wasn't I? Isn't it awful 
a man should be driven to do a thing like that — ^and be 
responsible? What did I know about their George they 
were howling after? I remembered I had seen him 
curied up on the deck. " Murdering coward ! " the chief 
kept on calling me. He didn't seem able to remember 
any other two words. I didn't care, only his noise 
began to worry me. "Shut up," I said. At that 
he collected himself for a confoimded screech. "You 
kiUed him. You kiUed him." "No," I shouted, 
"but I will kill you directly." I jumped up, and he 
fell backwards over a thwart with an awful loud 
thump. I don't know why. Too dark. Tried to 
step back, I suppose. I stood still facing aft, and the 
wretched little second began to whine, "You ain't 
going to hit a chap with a broken arm — ^and you call 
yourself a gentleman, too." I heard a heavy tramp 
— one — ^two — ^and wheezy grunting. The other beast 
was coming at me, clattering his oar over the stem. 
I saw him moving, big, big — as you see a man in 
a mist, in a dream. "Come on," I cried. I woidd 
have tumbled him over like a bale of shakings. He 
stopped, muttered to himself, and went back. Per- 
haps he had heard the wind. I didn't. It was the 
last heavy gust we had. He went back to his oar, 
I was sorry. I woidd have tried to— to . . .' 

"He opened and closed his curved fingers, and his 
hands had an eager and cruel flutter. * Steady, steady/ 
I murmured. 

"*Eh? What? I am not excited,' he remon- 
strated, awfully hurt, and with a convulsive jerk of 
his elbow knocked over the cognac-bottle. I started 
forward, scraping my chair. He bounced oflf the 







table as if a mine had been exploded behind his back, 
and half turned before he alighted, crouching on his 
feet to show me a startled pair of eyes and a face 
white about the nostrils. A look of intense annoy- 
ance succeeded. ^AwfuDy sorry. How clumsy of 
me!' he mumbled very vexed, while the pungent 
odour of spilt alcohol enveloped us suddenly with an 
atmosphere of a low drinking-bout in the cool, pure 
darkness of the night. The lights had been put out 
in the dining-hall; our candle glinnnered solitary in 
the long gallery, and the colunms had turned black 
from pediment to capital. On the vivid stars the 
high comer of the Harbour OflSce stood out distinct 
across the Esplanade, as though the sombre pile had 
gUded nearer to see and hear. 

*'He assumed an air of indifference. 

"*I dare say I am less calm now than I was then. 
I was ready for anything. These were trifles. . . .' 

"*You had a lively time of it in that boat,' I re- 

"*I was ready,' he repeated. * After the ship's 
lights had gone, anything might have happened in 
that boat — ^anything in the world — ^and the world no 
wiser. I felt this, and I was pleased. It was just 
dark enough, too. We were like men walled up quick 
in a roomy grave. No concern with anything on 
earth. Nobody to pass an opinion. Nothing mat- 
tered.' For the third time during this conversation 
he laughed harshly, but there was no one about to 
suspect him of being only drunk. *No fear, no law, 
no^sounds, no eyes — ^not even our own, till — ^till simrise 
at least.' 

"I was struck by the suggestive truth of his words. 
There is something peculiar in a small boat upon 
the wide sea. Over the lives borne from under the 

\ •■.^.\ i. J 


shadow of death there seems to fall the shadow of "^ 
madness. When your ship fails you, your whole 
world seems to fail you; the world that made you, t 
restrained you, taken care of you. flR^^as^TES^ 
souls of men floating on an abyss and in touch with 
immensity had been set free for any excess of heroism, 
absurdity, or abomination. Of course, as with belief, 

thought, love, hate, conviction, or even the visual . 

aspect of material things, there SfJ^SLjag^. many ship- ^ 
J^^egka^jas^JJiere are men, and in this one tEere'''WttSr^^ ' 
something abject^^^wEch made the isolation more 
complete — there was a villainy of circumstances that 
cut these men oflF more completely from the rest 
of mankind, whose ideal of conduct had never imder- 
gone the trial of a fiendish and appalling joke. They 
were exasperated with him for being a half-hearted 
shirker: he focussed on them his hatred of the whole 
thing; he would have liked to take a signal revenge jk 
for the abhorrent opportunity they had put in his v;^^ 
way. Trust a boat on the high seas to bring out thex(t*^ 
I rrationa l that lurks at the bot tom of ev ery thought, ^ 
sentiment, sensation, emotion. '^It was "part" oTffiS — 7:7 
burlesque meanness pervamhg that particular dis- 
aster at sea that they did not come to blows. It was 
all threats, all a terribly eflFective feint, a sham from 
.^--beginning to^nd, planned by the tremendous disdain /«.., 
, of the Dark Powers whose rea l terrors , always on the <^ 
verge of triumph, are perpetually ^ ^^^%^ , ^ 7 ^^^ ste adr , 
fastness pLjueikr I asked, after waitmg Tor a while, 
^WeHTwh^t happened?' A futile question. I knew 
too much' already to hope for the grace of a single 
uplifting/ touch, for the favour of hinted madness, 
of shad/6wed horror. 'Nothing,' he said. *I meant 
busine^^, but they meant noise only. Nothing hap- 





*^ And the rising sim found him just as he had jumped 
up first in the bows of the boat. What a persistence of 
readiness! He had been holding the tiller in his hand, 
too, all the night. They had dropped the*srudder over- 
board while attempting to ship it, and I suppose the 
tiller got kicked forward somehow while tliey were 
rushing up and down that boat trying to do all sorts of 
things at once so as to get clear of the side. It was a 
long heavy piece of hard wood, and apparently he had 
been clutching it for six hours or so. If you don't call 
that being ready ! Can you imagine him, silent and on 
his feet half the night, his face to the gusts of rain, 
staring at sombre forms, watchful of vague movements, 
straining his ears to catch rare low murmurs in the stem- 
sheets! Firmness of courage or effort of fear? What 
do you think? And the endurance is imdeniable, too. 
Six hours more or less on the defensive; six hours 
of alert immobiUty while the boat drove slowly or 
floated arrested according to the caprice of the wind; 
while the sea, calmed, slept at last; while the, clouds 
passed above his head; while the sky from an im- 
mensity lustreless and black, diminished to a sombre 
and lustrous vault, scintillated with a greater bril- 
Uance, faded to the east, paled at the zenith; while 
the dark shapes blotting the low stars astern got out- 
lines, relief; became shoidders, heads, faces, features, 
— confronted him with dreary stares, had dishevelled 
hair, torn clothes, blinked red eyelids at the white 
dawn. *They looked as though they had been knock- 
ing about drunk in gutters for a week,' he described 
graphically; and then he muttered something about the 
sunrise being of a kind that foretells a calm day. You 
know that sailor habit of referring to the weather in 
every connection. And on my side his few mumbled 
words were enough to make me see the lower limb of the 


siin clearing the line of the horizon, the tremble of a vast 
ripple running over all the visible expanse of the sea, 
as if the waters had shuddered, giving birth to the globe 
of light, while the last puflF of the breeze would stir the 
air in a sigh of reUef. 

"*They sat in the stem shoulder to shoidder, with 
the skipper in the middle, like three dirty owls, and 
stared at me,' I heard him say with an intention of 
hate that distilled a corrosive virtue into the common- 
place words like a drop of powerful poison falling 
into a glass of water; but my thoughts dwelt upon 
that sunrise. I could imagine under the pellucid 
emptiness of the sky these four men imprisoned in 
the soKtude of the sea, the lonely sun, regardless of 
the speck of life, ascending the clear curve of the 
heaven as if to gaze ardently from a greater height 
at his own splendour reflected in the still ocean. *They 
called out to me from aft,' said Jim, ^as though we had 
been chums together. I heard them. They were 
begging me to be sensible and drop that "blooming 
piece of wood." Why would I carry on so? They 
hadn't done me any harm — ^had they? There had been 
no harm. . . . No harm ! ' 

"His face crimsoned as though he coidd not get 
rid of the air in his lungs. 

"*No harm!' he burst out. *I leave it to you. 
You can understand. Can't you? You see it — 
don't you? No harm ! Good Grod ! What more could 
they have done? Oh, yes, I know very well — ^I jumped. 
Certainly. I jumped! I told you I jumped; but I 
tell you they were too much for any man. It was their 
doing as plainly as if they had reached up with a boat- 
hook and pulled me over. Can't you see it? You 
must see it. Come. Speak — straight out.' 

"His uneasy eyes fastened upon mine, questioned, 


begged, challenged, entreated. For the life of me 
I couldn't help murmuring, *^uVe been tried/ 
JJVfarc thniH in fnir/ he caught up, swiftly. *1 wasn^t 
given half a chance — ^with a gang like that. And 
now they were friendly — oh, so damnably friendly! 
Chums, shipmates. All in the same boat. Make 
the best of it. They hadn't meant anything. They 
didn't care a hang for George. George had gone 
back to his berth for something at the last moment 
and got caught. The man was a manifest fool. Very 
sad, of course. . . . Their eyes looked at me; 
their lips moved; they wagged their heads at the 
other end of the boat — three of them; they beck- 
oned — ^to me. Why not? Hadn't I jumped? I 
said nothing. There are no words for the sort of 
things I wanted to say* If P*^had opened my lips 
just then I would have simply howled like an ani- 
mal. I was asking myself when I would wake up. 
They urged me aloud to come aft and hear quietly 
what the skipper had to say. We were sure to be 
picked up before the evening — bright in the track of 
all the Canal traiBSc; there was smoke to the north- 
west now. 

"*It gave me an awful shock to see this faint, faint 
blur, this low trail of brown mist through which you 
could see the boundary of sea and sky. I called out to 
them that I coidd hear very well where I was. The 
skipper started swearing, as hoarse as a crow. He 
wasn't going to talk at the top of his voice for my 
accommodation. "Are you afraid they will hear you on 
shore? " I asked. He glared as if he would have liked to 
claw me to pieces. The chief engineer advised him to 
humour me. He said I wasn't right in my head yet. 
The other rose astern, like a thick pillar of flesh — and 
talked — ^talked. . . .' 


"Jim remained thoughtful. *Well?' I said. *What 
did I care what story they agreed to make up?' he cried, 
recklessly. *They coidd tell what they jolly well liked. 
It was their business. I knew the story. Nothing 
they could make people beUeve could alter it for me. 
I let him talk, argue — ^talk, argue. He went on and on 
and on. Suddenly I felt my legs give way under me. 
I was sick, tired — ^tired to death. I let fall the tiller, 
turned my back on them, and sat down on the foremost 
thwart. I had enough. They called to me to know if 
I understood — ^wasn't it true, every word of it? It was 
true, by God! after their fashion. I did not turn 
my head. I heard them palavering together. "The 
silly ass won't say anything." "Oh, he understands 
well enough." "Let him be; he will be all right." 
"What can he do? " What could I do? Weren't we all 
in the same boat? I tried to be deaf. The smoke had 
disappeared to the northward. It was a dead calm. 
They had a drink from the water-breaker, and I drank, 
too. Afterwards they made a great business of spread- 
ing the boat-sail over the gunwales. Would I keep a 
look-out? They crept under, out of my sight, thank 
God! I felt weary, weary, done up, as if I hadn't 
had one hour's sleep since the day I was bom. I 
couldn't see the water for the glitter of the sunshine. 
From time to time one of them would creep out, 
stand up to take a look all round, and get under again. 
I could hear spells of snoring below the sail. Some of 
them could sleep. One of them at least. I couldn't! 
All was light, Ught, and the boat seemed to be falling 
through it. Now and then I would feel quite surprised 
to find myself sitting on a thwart. . . .* 

"He began to walk with measured steps to and 
fro before my chair, one hand in his trousers-pocket, 
his head bent thoughtfully, and his right arm at 


Vmg intervab ndsed for a gesture that seemed to put 
out of his way an invisible intruder. 

***I suppose you think I was going mad,' he began 
in a changed Ume. *And well you may, if you re- 
member I had lost my cap. Tlie sun crept all the 
wi^ from east to west over my bare head, but that 
di^ I could not come to any harm, I suppose. The 
sun could not make me mad. • • / His right arm 
put aside the idea of madness. • . • * Neither could 
it kill me. • • / Again his arm repulsed a shadow. 
• • . * That rested with me.' 

***Did it?' I said, inexpressibly amazed at this 
new turn, and I looked at him with the same sort 
of feeling I might be fairly conceived to experience 
had he, after spinning roimd on his heel, presented 
an altogether new face. 

"*I didn't get brain fever, I did not drop dead 
either,' he went on. ^I didn't bother myself at all 
about the sun over my head. I was thinking as 
coolly as any man that ever sat thinking in the shade. 
That greasy beast of a skipper poked his big cropped 
head from under the canvas and screwed his fishy eyes 
up at me. "Donnerwetter! you will die," he growled, 
and drew in like a turtle. I had seen him. I had heard 
him. He didn't interrupt me. I was thinking just 
then that I wouldn't.' 

**He tried to sound my thought with an attentive 
glance dropped on me in passing. ^Do you mean to 
say you had been deliberating with yourself whether 
you would die?' I asked in as impenetrable a tone 
as I could conmiand. He nodded without stopping. 
*Yes, it had come to that as I sat there alone,' he 
said. He passed on a few steps to the imaginary 
end of his beat, and when he flung roimd to come 
back both his hands were thrust deep into his pockets. 


He stopped short in front of my chair and looked 
down, * Don't you beKeve it?' he inquired with 
tense curiosity. I was moved to make a solemn 
declaration of my readiness to believe implicitly 
anything he thought fit to tell me." 


"He heard me out with his head on one side, and 
I had another gUmpse through a rent in the mist 
in which he moved and had his bemg. The dim 
candle spluttered within the ball of glass, and that 
was all I had to see him by; at his back was the dark 
night with the clear stars, whose distant gUtter disposed 
in retreating planes lured the eye into the depths of a 
greater darkness; and yet a mysterious Ught seemed to 
show me his boyish head, as if in that moment the youth 
within him had, for a moment, gleamed and expired. 
* You are an awfid good sort to Ksten like this,' he said. 
*It does me good. You don't know what it is to me. 
You don't' . . . words seemed to fail him. It 
was a distinct glimpse. He was a youngster of the sort 
you like to see about you; of the sort you like to imagine 
yourself to have been; of the sort whose appearance 
claims the fellowship of these illusions you had thought 
gone out, extinct, cold, and which, as if rekindled at 
the approach of another flame, give a flutter deep, 
deep down somewhere, give a flutter of Ught . . . 
of heat! . . . Yes; I had a gUmpse of him then 
f*7 — :^^ . and it was not the last of that kind. . . . 
/ * You don't know what it is for a fellow in my position to 
/ bebeUeved — ^ake aclean hrftafit of ifrt<ra»»elder man. It 

/ is so diflScult — so awfully unfair — so hard to understand. 

i "The mists were closing again. I don't know 

how old I appeared to him — and how much wise. 
Not half as old as I felt just then; not half as use- 
lessly wise as I knew myself to be. Surely in no 



other craft as in that of the sea do the hearts of those 
already launched to sink or swim go out so much to 
the youth on the brink, looking with shining eyes 
upon that glitter of the vast surface which is only 
a reflection of his own glances full of fire. There 
is such magnificent vagueness in the expectations 
that, had dn'veTi each of usM^ spa^ such a glorious r,, 



indefiniteness, such a be autiful greed of adventures 

thaT are their 6Wn and only rewar9 1 > \hat we g et ,* //u^ ' 

— wP», wp wr>^ tjilk of that: hut ran one of iia re- ^ 

strain. jusoQjile? Tn^jio pt^er kind of h'fe is the illusion \ *^^^ ' 
more wide of reahty — ^in no other is the beginning all \ 
illusion — the disenchantment more swift — ^the sub- \ 
jugation more complete. Hadn t we all commenced ' 
with the same desire, ended with the same knowledge, ■ 
"carrted' fhe memory of the same cherished^ glamour 

through the sordid days of imOTecaJionPjVVhat woii3er 
that when some heavy procl geiSTiome the bond is 
found to be close; that besides the fellowship of the craft 
there is felt the strength of a wider feeling — jjbifi ffifJing 
thnthindn n mnn tft a rhild He was there before me, 
leving that age and wisdom can find a remedy 
against the pain of truth, giving me a ghmpse of 
himself as a yoimg fellow in a scrape that is the very 
devil of a scrape, the sort of scrape greybeards wag 
at solemnly while they hide a smile. And he had 
been dehberating upon death — confound him! He 
had found thai to meditate about because he thought he 
had saved his life, while all its glamour had gone with 
the ship in the night. What more natural ! It was tragic 
enough and funny enough in all conscience to call aloud 
for compassion, and in what was I better than the rest of 
us to refuse him my pity? And even as I looked at him 
the mists rolled into the rent, and his voice spoke — 
"*I was so lost, you know. It was the sort of 


thing one does not expect to happen to one. It was 
not Uke a fight, for instance/ 

*^*It was not,* I admitted. He appeared changed 
as if he had suddenly matured. 

*Qne couldn't be sure,' he muttered. 
^Ah! You were not sure,' I said, and was placated 
by the sound of a faint sigh that passed between us like 
the flii^t of a bird in the night. 

***Well, I wasn't,' he said, courageously. *It was 
something like that wretched story they made up. 
It was not a lie — ^but it wasn't truth all the same. 
It was something. . . . One knows a downright 
lie. T ^ere was not the th iVlmf^ ^f r ahf^t nf pA^pog^hA- 

f wy^n tlM> rigitt An d wrong o f tJiia nflPnir * 

*** How much more did you want ?' I asked; but 
I thinf i spoke so low that he did not catch what I 
said. He had advanced his argument as though life 
had been a network of paths separated by chasms. 
His voice sounded reasonable. 

*** Suppose I had not — ^I mean to say, suppose I 
had stuck to the ship? Well. How much longer? 
Say a minute — ^half a minute. G)me. In thirty 
seconds, as it seemed certain then, I would have 
been overboard; and do you think I would not have 
laid hold of the first thing that came in my way — oar, 
life-buoy, grating — anything? Wouldn't you?' 

"*And be saved,' I interjected. 

"*I would have meant to be,' he retorted. *And 
that's more than I meant when r . . . he shivered 
as if about to swallow some nauseous drug . . . 
* jumped,' he pronounced with a convulsive effort, 
whose stress, as if propagated by the waves of the 
air, made my body stir a little in the chair. He 
fixed me with lowering eyes. *Don't you believe 
me?' he cried. * I swear! . . . Confound it! You 


got me here to talk, and . . • You must! • • . 
You said you would beKeve/ *Qf course I do/ I pro- 
tested in a matter-of-fact tone which produced a calm- 
ing effect, * Forgive me/ he said. * Of course I wouldn't 
have talked to you about all this if you had not been 
a gentleman. I ought to have known . . . lam — 
I am — ^a gentleman, too . . .' *Yes, yes,' I said, 
hastily. He was looking me squarely in the face 
and withdrew his gaze slowly. *Now you under- 
stand why I didn't after all . • . didn't go out in 
that way. I wasn't going to be frightened at what 
I had done. And, anyhow, if I had stuck to the 
ship I would have done my best to be saved. Men 
have been known to float for hours — ^in the open sea 
— ^and be picked up not much the worse for it. I 
might have lasted it out better than many others. 
There's nothing the matter with my heart.' He 
withdrew his right fist from his pocket, and the blow he 
struck on his chest resounded like a muffled detonation 
in the night. 

^"'No,' I said. He meditated, with his legs sligjbtly*^ ^ 
apart and his chin sunk. ^A hair's-breadth,' he 
muttered. ^Not the breadth of a hair betwe^si 4his 
and that. And at the time . . .* ^v 

^""It is difficult to see a hair at midnight,' I put 
in, a little viciously I fear. Don't you see what I_ 
mean by the solidarity of the craft? I was aggrieved 
against him, as though he had cheated me — ^me! — of 
a splendid opportunity to keep up the illusion of my 
beginnings, as though he had robbed our commo n 
life of the last spark of its glamour, r* And so you 
cleared out — at once.* ^"^ 

"* Jumped,' he corrected me incisively. 'Jumped 
— mind!' he repeated, and I wondered at the evident 
but obscure intention. *Well, yes! Perhaps I could 



not see then. But I had plenty of time and any 
amount of light in that boat. And I could think, 
too. Nobody would know, of course, but this did 
not make it any easier for me. YouVe got to be- 
Heve that, too. I did not want all this talk. • . . 
No • . . Yes ... I won't lie . • . I 
wanted it: it is the very thing I wanted — ^there. Do 
you think you or anybody could have made me if I 
. . . I am — ^I am not afraid to tell. And I wasn't 
afraid to think either. I looked it in the face. I wasn't 
going to run away. At first— at night, if it hadn't 
been for these fellows I might have . . . No! by 
heavens! I was not going to give them that satis- 
faction. They had done enough. They made up 
a story, and believed it for all I know. But I knew 
the truth, and I would live it down — ^alone, with 
myself. I wasn't going to give in to such a beastly 
unfair thing. What did it prove after all? I was 
confoundedly cut up. Sick of life — ^to tell you the 
truth; but what would have been the good to shirk 
it — ^in — ^in — ^that way? That was not the way. I 
believe — ^I believe it would have — ^it would have 
ended — ^nothing.' 

"He had been walking up and down, but with the 
last word he turned short at me. 

"*What do you beheve?' he asked with violence. 
A pause ensued, and suddenly I felt myself overcome 
by a profound and hopeless fatigue, as though his 
voice had startled me out of a dream of wandering 
through empty spaces whose immensity had harassed 
my soul and exhausted my body. 

"*. . . Would have ended nothing,* he muttered 
over me obstinately, after a Kttle while. *No! the 
proper thing was to face it out — alone for myself 
— wait for another chaixc^-dfodjWtL ,• • 

9 99 




"All around everything was still as far as the ear 
could reach. The mist of his feelings shifted between 
us, as if disturbed by his struggles, and in the rifts of 
the immaterial veil he would appear to my staring eyes 
distinct of form and pregnant with vague appeal like a 
symbolic figure in a picture. The chill air of the night 
seemed to Ue on my limbs as heavy as a slab of marble. 

"*I see/ I murmured, more to prove to myself 
that I could break my state of numbness than for 
any other reason. 

"*The Avondale picked us up just before sunset,' 
he remarked, moodily. * Steamed right straight for 
us. We had only to sit and wait.' 

"After a long interval, he said, *They told their 
story.' And again there was that oppressive silence. 
'Then only I knew what it was I had made up my 
mind to,' he added. 

"*You said nothing,' I whispered. 

"'What could I say?' he asked, in the same low 
tone. . . . 'Shock slight. Stopped the ship. As- 
certained the damage. Took measures to get the boats 
out without creating a panic. As the first boat was 
lowered ship went down in a squall. Sank like lead. 
. . . What could be more clear' ... he hung 
his head . . . *and more awful?' His lips quiv- 
ered while he looked straight into my eyes. 'I had 
jumped — ^hadn't I? ' he asked, dismayed. 'That's what 
I had to live down.v:;Tlie story didn't matter/x . , . 
He clasped his hands for an instant, g igngCff nght and 



left into the gloom: ^It was like cheating the dead/ 
he stainmered. 

id there were no dead/ I said. 
He went away from me at this. That is the 
only way I can describe it. In a moment I saw his 
back close to the balustrade. He stood there for 
some time» as if admiring the purity and the peace 
of the night. Some flowering-shrub in the garden 
below spread its powerful scent through the damp 
air. He returned to me with hasty steps. 

^^'And that did not matter/ he said, as stubbornly 
as you please. 

*^' Perhaps not,' I admitted. I began to have a 
notion he was too much for me. After all, what did 
/ know? 

'^'Dead or not dead, I could not get clear,' he said, 
a had to Uve; hadn't I?' 

"*Well, yes — ^if you take it in that way,* I mumbled. 

"*I was glad, of course,' he threw out carelessly 
with his mind fixed on something else. ^The ex- 
posure,' he pronounced, slowly, and lifted his head. 
*Do you know what was my first thought when I 
heard? I was relieved. I was relieved to learn that 
those shouts — did I tell you I had heard shouts? No? 
Well, I did. Shouts for help . . . blown along 
with the drizzle. Imagination I suppose. And yet 
I can hardly • • • How stupid. • . . The 
others did not. I asked them afterwards. They all 
said No. No? And I was hearing them even then ! I 
might have known — ^but I didn't think — ^I only listened. 
Very faint screams — day after day. Then that little 
half-caste chap here came up and spoke to me. ^^The 
Patna . . . French gunboat • • . towed suc- 
cessfuUy to Aden . . . Investigation . 
Marine Office . . • Sailors' Home . . • ar- 


rangements made for your board and lodging!" I 
walked along with him, and I enjoyed the silence. So 
there had been no shouting. Imagination. I had to 
believe him. I could hear nothing any more. I 
wonder how long I could have stood it. It was getting 
worse, too ... I mean — ^louder.' 

"He fell into thought. 

"'And I had heard nothing! Well — so be it. But 
the lights! The lights did go! We did not see them. 
They were not there. If they had been, I would have 
swam back — ^I would have gone back and shouted along- 
side — ^I would have begged them to take me on board. 
. . . I would have had my chance. . . . You 
doubt me? . . . How do you know how I felt? 
. . . What right have you to doubt? ... I 
very nearly did it as it was — do you imderstand?' 
His voice fell. * There was not a glimmer — not a glim- 
mer,' he protested, mournfully. * Don't you understand 
that if there had been, you would not have seen me here? 
You see me — and you doubt.* 

"I shook my head negatively. This question of 
the lights being lost sight of when the boat could 
not have been more than a quarter of a mile from 
the ship was a matter for much discussion. Jim 
stuck to it that there was nothing to be seen after 
the first shower had cleared away; and the others 
had affirmed the same thing to the officers of the 
Avondale. Of course people shook their heads and 
smiled. One old skipper who sat near me in court 
tickled my ear with his white beard to murmur, *0f 
course they would lie.' As a matter of fact nobody 
lied; not even the chief engineer with his story of 
the masthead Ught dropping like a match you throw 
down. Not consciously, at least. A man with his 
liver in such a state might very well have seen a floating 


spark in the comer of his eje when stealing a hurried 
-giaace^yeK hk^fesjjlder^f TThey had seen no Kght of any 
sort though they were well within range, and they could 
only explain this in one way: the ship had gone down. 
j It was obvious and comforting. The foreseen fact 
L coming so swiftly had justified their haste. No wonder 
they did not cast about for any other explanation. 
Yet the true one was very simple, and as soon as 
Brierly suggested it the court ceased to bother about the 
question. If you remember, the ship had been stopped 
and was lying with her head on the course steered 
through the night, with her stem canted high and 
her bows brought low down in the water through 
the filling of the fore-compartment. Being thus 
out of trim, when the squall struck her a Uttle on 
the quarter, she swung head to wind as sharply as 
though she had been at anchor. By this change 
in her position all her lights were in a very few moments 
shut off from the boat to leeward. It may very well be 
that, had they been seen, they would have had the 
effect of a mute appeal — ^that their glimmer lost in the 
^4a|kn^ss of the cloud would have hac^^themystieirious 
power of the human glance that can awaken the f eehngs j 
of remorse and pityr* Tt would have said; *I am here-^ ^ 
still heiFe***' l"*^'r-v-^and what more can the eye of the 
most forsaken of human beings say? But she turned 
her back on them as if in disdain of their fate : she had 
swung round, burdened, to glare stubbornly at the new 
danger of the open sea which she so strangely sur- 
vived to end her days in a breaking-up yard, as if 
it had been her recorded fate to die obscurely under 
the blows of many hammers. What were the various 
ends their destiay provided for the pilgrims I am unable 
to say; but the immediate future brought, at about 
nine o'clock next morning, a French gunboat homeward 


bound from Reunion. The report of her commander 
was public property. He had swept a little out of his 
course to ascertain what was the matter with that 
steamer floating dangerously by the head upon a still 
and hazy sea. There was an ensign, imion down, flying 
at her main gaff (the serang had the sense to make a 
signal of distress at daylight); but the cooks were 
preparing the food in the cooking-boxes forward as 
usual. The decks were packed as close as a sheep- 
pen: there were people perched all along the rails, 
jammed on the bridge in a soUd mass; hundreds of 
eyes stared, and not a sound was heard when the 
gunboat ranged abreast, as if all that multitude of 
Ups had been sealed by a spell. 

"The Frenchman hailed, could get no intelligible 
reply, and after ascertaining through his binoculars 
that the crowd on deck did not look plague-stricken, 
decided to send a boat. Two officers came on board, 
listened to the serang, tried to talk with the Arab, 
couldn't make head or tail of it: but of course the 
nature of the emergency was obvious enough. They 
were also very much struck by discovering a white 
man, dead and curled up peacefully on the bridge. 
'Fort irUriguSs par ce cadxwre,' as I was infonned 
a long time after by an elderly French Ueutenant 
whom I came across one afternoon in Sydney, by 
the merest chance, in a sort of caf6, and who remem- 
bered the affair perfectly. Indeed this affair, I may 
notice in passing, had an extraordinary power of 
defying the shortness of memories and the length 
of time: it seemed to live, with a sort of imcanny 
vitahty, in the minds of men, on the tips of their 
tongues. IVe had the questionable pleasure of meet- 
ing it often, years afterwards, thousands of miles away, 
emerging from the remotest possible talk, coming to the 


surface of the most distant allusions. Has it not 
turned up to-night between us? And I am the only 
seaman here. I am the only one to whom it is a memory. 
And yet it has made its way out! But if two men who, 
unknown to each other, Imew of this affair met acci- 
dentally on any spot of this earth, the thing would pop 
up between them as siure as fate, before they parted. 
I had never seen that Frenchman before, and at 
the end of an hour we had done with each other for 
life: he did not seem particularly talkative either; he 
was a quiet, massive chap in a creased imif orm sitting 
drowsily over a tumbler half full of some dark liquid. 
His shoulder-straps were a bit tarnished, his clean- 
shaved cheeks were large and sallow; he looked like a 
man who would be given to taking snuff — <kfljlt..wu 
-know? I won't say he did; but the habit would have 
fitted that kind of man. It all began by his handing me 
a number of Home News, which I didn't want, across 
the marble table. I said, *Merci.' We exchanged 
a few apparently innocent remarks, and suddenly, 
before I knew how it had come about, we were in 
the midst of it, and he was telling me how much they 
had been * intrigued by that corpse.' It turned out 
he had been one of the boarding officers. 

"In the establishment where we sat one could get 
a variety of foreign drinks which were kept for the 
visiting naval officers, and he took a sip of the dark 
medical-looking stuff, which probably was nothing 
more nasty than cassis d Veau, and glancing with one 
eye into tibe tumbler, shook his head slightly. IJm^ 

,.Jf!!^,^?Mf jffe '^'^^^^iX!^Z^Z^^'^ concevez,* he said, with a 
curious mixture of unconcern and thoughtfulness. I 
could very easily conceive how impossible it had been 
for them to understand. Nobody in the gunboat knew 
enough English to get hold of the story as told by the 

•^^ C^'^iL''^^:^ 

LORD JIM ^' i-^^ '^^ 189 

serang. There was a good deal of noise, too, round the 
two officers. *They crowded upon us. There was a 
circle round that dead man {avtour de ce moH)* he de- 
scribed. ^One had to attend to the most pressing. 

■— **^HlSse people were beginning to agitate themselves — 
Parbleul A^^i^Xke that — Hoj^t y^^^ ^fy^* he inter- 
jected with pEiiosophic indulgence. As to the bulk- 
head, he had advised his commander that the safest 
thing was to leave it alone, it was so villainous to 
look at. They got two hawsers on board promptly 
(en Untie hate) and took the Patna in tow — stem fore- 
most at that — which, under the circumstances, was 
not so foolish, since the rudder was too much out of the 
water to be of any great use for steering, and this 
manoeuvre eased the strain on the bulkhead, whose 
state, he expounded with stolid glibness, demanded the 
greatest care (Sxigeait les plus grands mSnagements) . 
I could not help thinking that my new acquaintance 
must have had a voice in most of these arrangements: 
he looked a reliable officer, no longer very active, and he 
was seamanlike, too, in a way, though as he sat there, 
with his thick fingers clasped lightly on his stomach, 

, he reminded you of one of those snuflfy, quiet village 
priests, into whose ears are poured the sins, the suffer- 
ings, the remorse of peasant generations, on whose faces 
the placid and simple expression is like a veil thrown 
over the mystery of pain and distress. He ought 
to have had a threadbare black soutane buttoned 
smoothly up to his ample chin, instead of a frock- 
coat with shoulder-straps and brass buttons. His 
broad bosom heaved regularly while he went on tell- 
ing me that it had been the very devil of a job, as 
doubtless (sans douie) I could figiu'e to myself in my 
quality of a seaman (en voire qualiti de marin). At 
the end of the period he inclined his body slightly 


towards me, and, pursing his shaved lips, allowed the air 
to escape with a gentle hiss. * Luckily,' he continued, 
*the sea was level like this table, and there was no more 
wind than there is here/ • • • The place struck me 
as indeed intolerably stuffy, and very hot; my face 
burned as though I had been yoimg enough to be em- 
barassed and blushing. They had directed their course, 
he pursued, to the nearest English port ^ncUureUe- 
ment,* where their responsibiUty ceased ^Dieu Toerci* 
. . . He blew out his flat cheeks a little. • • . 
^Because, mind you (rwlez Wen), all the time of towing 
we had two quartermasters stationed with axes by the 
hawsers, to cut us clear of our tow in case she • . . ' 
He fluttered downwards his heavy eyelids, making his 
meaning as plain as possible. . . . ^W hat wou ld 
1 On edoes ^at one ca n {on fait ce qu'on peiU)y* 
and fora moment he managed to invest his ponderous 
immobiUty with an air of resignation. *Two quarter- 
masters — ^thirty hours — ^always there. Two!' he re- 
peated, lifting up his right hand a little, and exhibiting 
two fingers. This was absolutely the first gesture I saw 
him make. It gave me the opportunity to 'note' a 
starred scar on the back of his hand — effect of a gunshot 
clearly; and, as if my sight had been made more acute 
by this discovery, I perceived also the seam of an old 
wound, beginning a little below the temple and going 
out of sight under the short grey hair at the side of 
his head — ^the graze of a spear or the cut of a sabre. 
He clasped his hands on his stomach again. 'I re- 
mained on board that — that — ^my memory is going 
(s^en va), Ahl Patt-nd. C'est bien ga. PaM-nd. 
Merd. It is droll how one forgets. I stayed on 
that ship thirty hours. . . .* 

"'You did!' I exclaimed. Still gazing at his hands, 
he pursed his lips a little, but this time made no hissing 


sound. *It was judged proper/ he said, lifting his eye- 
brows dispassionately, Hhat one of the officers should 
remain to keep an eye open (pour ouvrir VosH) ' . . . 
he sighed idly . . • *and for communicating by 
signals with the towing ship — do you see? — ^and so on. 
For the rest, it was my opinion, too. We made our 
boats ready to drop over — and I also on that ship took 
measiu-es. . . . Enfinl One has done one's pos- 
sible. It was a dehcate position. Thirty hours. 
They prepared me some food. As for the wine — ^go and 
whistle for it — ^not a drop.* In some extraordinary way, 
without any marked change in his inert attitude 
and in the placid expression of his face, he managed 
to convey the idea of profound disgust. *I — ^you 
know— when it comes to eating without my glass 
of wine— I am nowhere.' 

"I was afraid he would enlarge upon the grievance, 
for though he didn't stir a hmb or twitch a feature, 
he made one aware how much he was irritated by 
the recollection. But he seemed to forget all about 
it. They delivered their charge to the *port author- 
ities,' as he expressed it. He was struck by the calm- 
ness with which it had been received. 'One might have 
thought they had such a droll find (drdle de trouvaille) 
brought them every day. You are extraordinary — 
you others,' he commented, with his back propped 
against the wall, and looking himself as incapable of an 
emotional display as a sack of meal. There happened 
to be a man-of-war and an Indian Marine steamer in 
the harbour at the time, and he did not conceal his 
admiration of the efficient manner in which the boats of 
these two ships cleared the Patna of her passengers. 
Indeed his tori>id demeanour concealed nothing: it 
had that mysterious, almost miraculous, power of 
producing striking effects by means impossible of 


detection which is the last word of the highest art. 
* Twenty-five minutes — ^watch in hand — twenty-five, 
no more/ • . • He unclasped and clasped again 
his fingers without removing his hands from his stom- 
ach, and made it infinitely more effective than if he had 
thrown up his arms to heaven in amazement. . • • 
*A11 that lot (tout ce monde) on shore — with their little 
affairs — ^nobody left but a guard of seamen (niarins de 
r^tat) and that interesting corpse (cet intiressant 
cad(wre). Twenty-five minutes/ . . . With down- 
cast eyes and his head tilted slightly on one side he 
seemed to roll knowingly on his tongue the savour of a 
smart bit of work. He persuaded one without any 
further demonstration that his approval was eminently 
worth having, and resuming his hardly interrupted 
immobility, he went on to inform me that, being under 
orders to make the best of their way to Toulon, they 
left in two hours' time, *so that (de sorte que) there are 
many things in this incident of my life (dans eel 6pi8ode 
de ma vie) which have remained obscure/ " 


''After these words, and without a change of 
attitude, he, so to speak, submitted himself passively 
to a state of silence. I kept him company; and sud- 
denly, but not abruptly, as if the appointed time 
had arrived for his moderate and husky voice to 
come out of his immobiUty, he pronounced, ^Mon 
Dieul how the time passes!' Nothing could have 
been more conmionplace than this remark; but its 
utterance coincided for me with a moment of vision, 
fit s ' extraordinary how we go through life with gyes ^^'^'^ 
f half shut, with dull ears, with dormant thoughts. / 

^ -Perhaps it's just as well; and it may be that itTsTESj '^^^ '"^ 
very dulness that makes life to the incalculable majority 
so supportable and so welcome. Nevertheless, there 
can be but few of us who had never known one of these 
rare moments of awakening when we see, hear, imder- 
stand ever so much — everything — ^in a flash — ^before 
we fall back again into our agreeable somnolence. I ^ 
raised my eyes when he spoke, and I saw him as though 
I had never seen him before. I saw his chin sunk on his 
breast, the cliunsy folds of his coat, his clasped hands, 
his motionless pose, so curiously suggestive of his hav- 
ing been simply left there. Time had passed mdeed: 
it had overtaken him and gone ahead. It had left him 
hopelessly behind with a few poor gifts: the iron-grey 
hair, the heavy fatigue of the tanned face, two scars, a 
pair of tarnished shoulder-straps; one of those steady, 
reliable men who are the raw material of great reputa- 
tions, one of those uncounted Uves that are buried with- 



out drums and trumpets under the foundations of 
monumental successes. ^I am now third lieutenant of 
the Vidorieuse* (she was the flagship of the French 
Pacific squadron at the time), he said, detaching his 
shoulders from the wall a couple of inches to introduce 
himself. I bowed slightly on my side of the table, and 
told him I conmianded a merchant vessel at present 
anchored in Rushcutters' Bay. He had * remarked' 
her, — ^a pretty little craft. He was very civil about 
it in his impassive way. I even fancy he went the 
length of tilting his head in compliment as he re- 
peated, breathing visibly the while, *Ah, yes. A 
little craft painted black — ^very pretty — ^very pretty 
{trh coquet).' After a time he twisted his body slowly 
to face the glass door on our right. *A dull town 
{triste viUejJ^ he observed, staring into the street. It 
was a briUiant day; a southerly buster was raging, 
and we could see the passers-by, men and women, 
buflFeted by the wind on the sidewalks, the sunlit fronts 
of the houses across the road blurred by the tall whirls 
of dust. *I descended on shore,' he said, *to stretch 
my legs a little, but . . .' He didn't finish, and 
sank into the depths of his repose. *Pray — ^tell me,' 
he began, coming up ponderously, *what was there at 
the bottom of this affair — ^precisely (au jtiste)? It is 
curious. That dead man, for instance — ^and so on.* 

"* There were living men, too,* I said; *much more 

"'No doubt, no doubt,' he agreed half audibly, 
then, as if after mature consideration, murmured, 
'Evidently.' I made no difficulty in communicating 
to him what had interested me most in this affair. 
It seemed as though he had a right to know : hadn't he 
spent thirty hours on board the Paina — ^had he not 
taken the succession, so to speak, had he not done 


*his possible'? He listened to me, looking more priest- 
like than ever, and with what — ^probably on account of 
his downcast eyes — ^had the appearance of devout con- 
centration. Once or twice he elevated his eyebrows 
(but without raising his eyelids), as one would say 
*The devil!' Once he calmly exclaimed, *Ah, bah!' 
under his breath, and when I had finished he pursed his 
lips in a deUberate way and emitted a sort of sorrowful 

"In any one else it might have been an evidence 
of boredom, a sign of indiflference; but he, in his occult 
way, managed to make his inmaobihty appear pro- 
foundly responsive, ^and as full of valuable ttioji^^ 
an egg is of meat. \ What he sai3^ laust'waSnoiy 
more than a^ Verjrititeresting,' pronounced politely, and 
not much above a whisper. Before I got over my dis- 
appointment he added, but as if speaking to himself, 
* That's it. That is it.' His chin seemed to sink lower 
on his breast, his body to weigh heavier on his seat. I 
was about to ask him what he meant when a sort of 
preparatory tremor passed over his whole person, as a 
faint ripple may be seen upon stagnant water even 
before the wind is felt. *And so that poor young man 
ran away along with the others,' he said, with grave 

"I don't know what made me smile: it is the only 
genuine smile of mine I can remember in connection 
with Jim's aflFair. But somehow this simple state- 
ment of the matter sounded funny in French. . . . 
^S'est enfui avec les avires^ had said the lieutenant. 
And suddenly I began to admire the discrimination of 
the man. He had made out the point at once: he did 
get hold of the only thing I cared about. I felt as 
though I were taking professional opinion on the case. 
His imperturbable and mature calmness was that of an 



expert in possession of the facts, and to whom one's 
perplexities are mere child's-play. *Ah! The young, 
the young/ he said, indulgently. ^And after all, one 
Fes not die ofitZ *Dieof what? 'I asked, swiftly. *Qf 
being-trfraid^He elucidated his meaning and sipped 
v^^^ drink. ^ 

"I perceived that the three last fingers of his wounded 
hand were stiff and could not move independently of 
each other, so that he took up his tiunbler with an un- 
gainly clutch. ^One is always afraid. One may talk, 
but . . .* He put down the glass awkwardly. 
. . . *The fear, the fear — ^look you — ^it is always 
there.' . . . He touched his breast near a brass 
button on the very spot where Jim had given a thump 
to his own when protesting that there was nothing the 
matter with his heart. I suppose I made some sign of 
dissent, because he insisted, *Yes! yes! One talks, 
one talks; this is all very fine; but at the end of the 
reckoning one is no cleverer than the next man — and 
no more brave. Brave! This is always to be seen. I 
have rolled my hump {roulS ma hosae)^ he said, using the 
slang expression with imperturbable seriousness, ^in all 
parts of the world; I have known brave men — ^famous 
ones! AUezr . . . He drank carelessly. • . . 
* Brave — ^you conceive — ^in the Service — one has got 
to be — the trade demands it (le mHier veux ga). Is 
it not so?' he appealed to me reasonably. *Eh bieni 
J . Each of them — ^I say each of them, if he were an 
jT * honest man — bien erUendu — would confess that there 
^ is a point — there is a point — ^f or the best of us — ^there 

is somewhere a point when you let go everything 
(voTis lachez tout). And you have got to live with 
that truth — do you see? Given a certain combina- 
tion of circimistances, fear is sure to come. Abomi- 
/ nable fimk (tin trac 6pouvantable) . And even for 



those who ilo not believe this-tciitih there is fear all 
the same-^ 4he^ f e<»r ^f t>ipTnflp]y^S''"^^NAKqn1iiff>1y so. 

Trust me. Yes. Yes. . . . At my age one knows 
what one is talking about — que diabUr . . . He 
had delivered himself of all this as immovably as 
though he had been the mouthpiece of abstract wis- 
dom, but at this point he heightened the effect of 
detachment by beginning to twirl his thumbs slowly. 
*It*s evident — Tparhleul* he continued; *for, make up 
your mind as much as you like, even a simple head- 
ache or a fit of indigestion {un derangement d' estomac) 
is enough to . . . Take me, for instance — ^I have 
made my proofs. Eh bient I, who am speaking to 
you, once . . .' 

**He drained his glass and returned to his twirling. 
*No, no; one does not die of it,' he pronounced, finally, 
and when I found he did not mean to proceed with the 
personal anecdote, I was extremely disappointed; the 
more so as it was not the sort of story, you know, one 
could very well press him for. I sat silent, and he too, 
as if nothing could please him better. Even his thumbs 
were still now. Suddenly his lips began to move. 
'That is so,' he resumed, placidly. ^JNian is bom a 
coward (V hcmme est nS poUron). It is aTdifilliulLv '■« 
parbleul It would be too easy otherwise. But habit 
— ^habit — ^necessity — do you see? — ^the eye of others — 
voild. One puts up with it. And then the example of 
others who are no better than yourself, and yet make 
good countenance. . . .* 
His voice ceased. 

*That young man — ^you will observe — ^had none 
of these inducements — at least at the moment,' I 

"He raised his eyebrows forgivingly: *I don't say; 
I don't say. The young man in question might have 

««i-»/».. - 


had the best dispositions — ^the best dispositions/ he 
repeated, wheezing a Uttle. 

"*I am glad to see you taking a lenient view/ I 
said. *His own feeling in the matter was — ah! — 
hopeful, and . . / 

"The shuffle of his feet under the table interrupted 
me. He drew up his heavy eyeUds. Drew up, I say 
— ^no other expression can describe the steady delibera- 
tion of the act — ^and at last was disclosed completely 
to me. I was confronted by two narrow grey circlets, 
Uke two tiny steel rings around the profound blackness 
of the pupils. The sharp glance, coming from that 
massive body, gave a notion of extreme efficiency, like 
a razor-edge on a battle-axe. * Pardon,' he said, punc- 
tihously. His right hand went up, and he swayed for- 
ward. * Allow me ... I contended that one 
may get on knowing very well that one's courage does 
Lot come of itself (ne vient pas toiU seid). There's 
Lothing much in that to get upset about. One truth 
the more ought not to make life impossible. . . . 
i ut th e ho nour — the honour, monsieur! . . . The 
lonouT I 7 ! that is real — that is! And what life 
lay be worth when' ... he got on his feet 
ith a ponderous impetuosity, as a startled ox might 
iramble up from the grass . . . *w hen the hono ur 
[one — ah qal par exemple — ^I can oflfer no opmion. 
can oflfer no opinion — ^because — ^monsieur — ^I know 
fnothing of it.' 

'*I had risen, too, and, trying to throw infinite polite- 
ness into our attitudes, we faced each other mutely, 
like two china dogs on a mantelpiece. Hang the 
fellow! he had pricked the bubble. The blight of 
futility that lies in wait for men's speeches had fallen 
upon our conversation, and made it a thing of empty 
sounds. *Very well,' I said, with a disconcerted smile, 


*but couldn't it reduce itself to not being found out?' 
He made as if to retort readily, but when he spoke he 
had changed his mind. ^This, monsieur, is too fine 
for me — ^much above me — ^I don't think about it.' He 
bowed heavily over his cap, which he held before him by 
the peak, between the thumb and the forefinger of his 
wounded hand. I bowed, too. We bowed together: 
we scraped our feet at each other with much ceremony, 
while a dirty specimen of a waiter looked on critically, 
as though he had paid for the performance. *Servi- 
teur,' said the Frenchman. Another scrape. * Mon- 
sieur' . . . * Monsieur.' . , . The glass door 
swung behind his buriy back. I saw the southerly 
buster get hold of him and drive him down wind with 
his hand to his head, his shoulders braced, and the tails 
of his coat blown hard against his legs. 

"I sat down again alone and discouraged — dis- 
couraged about Jim's case. If you wonder that 
after more than three years it had preserved its ac- 
tuaHty, you must know that I had seen him only 
very lately. I had come straight from Samarang, 
where I had loaded a cargo for Sydney: an utterly 
uninteresting bit of business,— what Charley here 
would call one of my rational transactions — ^and in 
Samarang I had seen something of Jim. He was 
then working for De Jongh, on my recommendation. 
Water-clerk. *My representative afloat,' as De 
Jongh called hun. You can't imagine a mode of Kfe 
more barren of consolation, less capable of being 
invested with a spark of glamour — unless it be the 
business of an insurance canvasser. Little Bob Stanton 
— Charley here knew him well — ^had gone through that 
experience. The same who got drowned afterwards 
trying to save a lady's-maid in the Sephora disaster. 
A case of collision on a hazy morning off the Spanish 

■J. J 




coast you may remember. All the passengers had been 
packed tidily into the boats and shoved clear of the ship 
when Bob sheered alongside again and scrambled 
back on deck to fetch that girl. How she had been 
left behind I can't make out; anyhow, she had gone 
completely crazy — ^wouldn't leave the ship — held to the 
A **' rail like grim death. The wrestling-match could be 
seen plainly from the boats; but poor Bob was the 
shortest chief mate in the merchant service, and the 
woman stood five feet ten in her shoes and was as strong 
as a horse, I've been told. So it went on, pull devil, 
pull baker, the wretched girl screaming all the time, and 
Bob letting out a yell now and then to warn his boat 
to keep well clear of the ship. One of the hands 
told me, hiding a smile at the recollection, *It was 
for all the world, sir, like a naughty youngster fight- 
I ing with hi£^mother.'("The same old chap said that 
^ - At tirelast we couHTsee that Mr. Stanton had given 
up hauling at the gal, and just stood by looking at her, 
watchful like. We thought afterwards he must Ve 
been reckoning that, maybe, the rush of water would 
tear her away from the rail by and by and give him a 
show to save her. We daren't come alongside for our 
life; and after a bit the old ship went down all on a sud- 
den with a lurch to starboard — ^plop. The suck in was 
something awful. We never saw anything alive or 
dead come up.' Poor Bob's spell of shore-life had been 
one of the complications of a love affair, I believe. 
He fondly hoped he had done with the sea for ever, 
and made sure he had got hold of all the bliss on earth, 
but it came to canvassing in the end. Some cousin of 
his in Liverpool put him up to it. He used to tell us 
his experiences in that line. He made us laugh till we 
cried, and, not altogether displeased at the effect, 
undersized and bearded to the waist like a gnome, he 


would tiptoe amongst us and say, *It's all very well for 
you beggars to laugh, but my immortal soul was 
shrivelled down to the size of a parched pea after a week 
of that work/ I don't know how Jim's soul ae- 
conunodated itself to the new conditions of his life — 
I was kept too busy in getting him something to do that 
would keep body and soul together — ^but I am pretty 
certain his adventiux)us fancy was suffering all the 
pangs of starvation. It had certainly nothing to 
feed upon in this new calling. It was distressing 
to see him at it, though he tackled it with a stubborn 
serenity for which I must give him full credit. I kept 
my eye on his shabby plodding with a sort of notion 
that it was a punishment for the heroics of his fancy — 
an expiation for his craving after more glamour than he 
could carry. He had loved too well to imagine himself 
a glorious racehorse, and now he was condemned to toil 
without honour like a costermonger's donkey. He 
did it very well. He shut himself in, put his head 
down, said never a word. Very well; very well in- 
deed — except for certain fantastic and violent out- 
breaks, on the deplorable occasions when the 
irrepressible Patna case cropped up. Unfortunately 
that scandal of the Eastern seas would not die out. 
And this is the reason why I could never feel I had 
done with Jim for good. 

^^I sat thinking of him after the French lieutenant 
had left, not, however, in connection with De Jongh's 
cool and gloomy backshop, where we had hurriedly 
shaken hands not very long ago, but as I had seen 
him years before in the last flickers of the candle, 
alone with me in the long gallery of the Malabar House, 
with the chill and the darkness of the night at his back. 
"""TKfe respectable sword of his country's law was sus- 
pended over his head. To-morrow — or was it to-day? 




^1^ * 


(midnight had slipped by long before we parted) — 
the marble-faced police magistrate, after distributing 
fines and terms of imprisonment in the assault-and- 
battery case, would take up the awful weapon and smite 
his bowed neck. Our commimion in the night was 
uncommonly like a last vigil with a condemned man. 
He was guilty, too. He was guilty — ^as I had told my- 
self repeatedly, guilty and done for; nevertheless, I 
wished to spare him the mere detail of a formal execu- 
tion. I don't pretend to explain the reasons of my de- 
sire — ^I don't think I could; but if you haven't got a 
sort of notion by this time, then I must have been very 
obscure in my narrative, or you too sleepy to seize upon 
the sense of my words. I don't defend my morahty. 
There was no morality in the impulse which mduced me 
to lay before him Brierly's plan of evasion — ^I may call 
it — in all its primitive simplicity. There were the 
rupees — absolutely ready in my pocket and very much 
at his service. Oh! a loan; a loan of course — ^and if an 
introduction to a man (in Rangoon) who could put 
some work in his way . • . Why ! with the greatest 
pleasure. I had pen, ink, and paper in my room on 
the first floor. And even while I was speaking I was 
impatient to begin the letter: day, month, year, 2:30 
A. M. . . . for the sake of our old friendship I ask you 
to put some work in the way of Mr. James So-and-so, 
whom, &c., &c. . . .1 was even ready to write 
that strain about him. Kli he had not enlisted my 
mpathies he had done better for himself — he had 
fone to the very fount and origin of that sentiment, 
le had reached the secret sensibility of my egoism^. 
am concealing nSthing from you, becaltse vteie I to 
do so my action would appear more unintelligible 
than any man's action has the right to be, and — ^in 
the second place — ^to-morrow you shall forget my 


sincerity along with the other lessons of the past. In 
this transaction, to speak grossly and precisely, I 
was the irreproachable man; but the subtle inten- 
tions of my immorality were defeated by the moral 
simplicity of the criminal. No doubt he was selfish, 
too, but his selfishness had a higher origm, a more 
lofty aim. I discovered that, say what I would, he 
was eager to go through the ceremony of execution; 
and I didn't say much, for I felt that in argument 
his youth would tell against me heavily: he beUeved 
where I had already ceased to doubt. There was 
something fine in the wildness of his unexpressed, 
hardly formulated hope. * Clear out! Couldn't think 
of it,' he said, with a shake of the head. ^I make 
you an oflFer for which I neither demand nor ex- 
pect any sort of gratitude,' I said; *you shall re- 
pay the money when convenient, and . . .' * Aw- 
fully good of you,' he muttered without looking up. 
I watched him narrowly : the future must have appeared 
horribly uncertain to him; but he did not falter, as 
though indeed there had been nothing wrong with his 
heart. I felt angry — ^not for the first time that night. 
*The whole wretched business,' I said, 'is bitter enough, 
I should think, for a man of your kind . . .' *It 
is, it is,' he whispered twice, with his eyes fixed on the 
floor. It was heartrending. He towered above the 
light, and I could see the down on his cheek, the colour 
manthng warm under the smooth skin of his face. 
Believe me or not, I say it was outrageously heart- 
rending. It provoked me to brutality. *Yes,' I said; 
^and allow me to confess that I am totally unable to 
imagine what advantage you can expect from this lick- 
ing of the dregs.' * Advantage!' he murmured out of 
his stillness. 'I am dashed if I do,' I said, enraged. 
I've been trying to tell you all there is in it,' he went on. 



slowly, as if meditating something unanswerable. 
^But after all, it is my trouble/ I opened my mouth 
to retort, and discovered suddenly that I'd lost all 
confidence in myself; and it was as if he, too, had given 
me up, for he mumbled like a man thinking half aloud. 
*Went away . . . went into hospitals. . . . 
Not one of them would face it. . . . They! 
. . .' He moved his hand slightly to imply disdain. 
*But IVe got to get over this thing, and I mustn't 
shirk any of it or . . . I won't shirk any of it.* He 
was silent. He jgftzfid ^s though he had been haunted. 
r'**"'flBsr\uicoBsdipus face/reflected the passing expressions 
"of scorn, of despair^ of resolution, — ^reflected them in 
turn, a^ a magic mirror would reflect the gliding 
passage of unearthly shapes. He lived surrounded 
by deceitful ghosts, by austere shades. *0h! non- 
sense, my dear fellow,' I b^an. He had a movement 
of impatience. *You don't seem to understand,' he 
said, incisively; then looking at me without a wink, 
j^I" may have jifflq)ed^' but..X.don!L.jauL,jawa^ 
'meant no oflFence,' I said; and added stupidly, ^Better 
men than you have found it expedient to run, at times.' 
He coloured all over, while in my confusion I half- 
choked myself with my own tongue. * Perhaps so,' 
he said at last; ^I am not good enough; I can't afford it. 
I am bound to fight this thing down— I am fighting it 
now.* I got out of my chair and felt stiff all over. 
The silence was embarrassing, and to put an end to it I 
imagined nothing better but to remark, 'I had no idea 
I it was so late,' in an airy tone. . . . *I daresay 
you have had enough of this,' he said, brusquely: *and 
to tell you the truth' — ^he began to look round for his 
hat — *so have I.' 

"Well! he had refused this unique offer. He had 
struck aside my helping hand; he was ready to go now. 




and beyond the balustrade the night seemed to wait for 
him very still, as though he had been marked down for 
its prey. I heard his voice. *Ah! here it is.' He had 
found his hat. For a few seconds we hung in the wind. 
*What will you do after — ^after . . .' I asked very 
low. *Go to the dogs as likely as not/ he answered in a 
gruflF mutter. I had recovered my wits in a measure, 
and judged best to take it lightly. *Pray remember/ I 
said, * that I should like very much to see you again before 
you go.' *I don't know what's to prevent you. Tj^Si^^ 
damaed thiag^WQP't j^afes Jft^^^ JftYJaiblfial he said with 
intense bitterness, — *no such luck.' And then at the 
moment of taking leave he treated me to a ghastly 
muddle of dubious stammers and movements, to an 
awful display of hesitations. God forgive him — ^me! 
He had taken it into his fanciful head that I was likely 
to make some difficulty as to shaking hands. It was 
too awful for words. I beheve I shouted suddenly 
at him as you would bellow to a man you saw about 
to walk over a cKflF; I remember our voices being 
raised, the appearance of a miserable grin on his face, 
a crushing clutch on my hand, a nervous laugh. The 
candle spluttered out, and the thing was over at last, 
with a groan that floated up to me in the dark. He 
got himself away somehow. The night swallowed his 
form. He was a horrible bimgler. Horrible. I heard 
the quick crunch-crunch of the gravel under his boots. 
He was nmning. Absolutely running, with nowhere to 
go to. And he was not yet four-and-twenty." 


"I SLEPT little, hurried over my breakfast, and 
after a slight hesitation gave up my eariy morning 
visit to my ship. It was really very wrong of me, 
because, though my chief mate was an excellent 
man all round, he was the victim of such black imagin- 
ings that if he did not get a letter from his wife at 
the expected time he would go quite distracted with 
rage and jealousy, lose all grip on the work, quarrel 
with all hands, and either weep in his cabin or develop 
such a ferocity of temper as all but drove the crew to 
the verge of mutiny. The thing had always seemed 
inexphcable to me: they had been married thirteen 
years; I had a glimpse of her once, and, honestly, 
I couldn't conceive a man abandoned enough to plunge 
into sin for the sake of such an unattractive person. 
I don't know whether I have not done wrong by 
refraining from putting that view before poor Selvin: 
the man made a little hell on earth for himself, and I 
also suffered indirectly, but some sort of, no doubt, 
false delicacy prevented me. The marital relations 
of seamen would make an interesting subject, and I 
could tell you instances. . . . However, this is not 
the place, nor the time, and we are concerned with 
Jim — who was immarried. If his imaginative con- 
science or his pride; if all the extravagant ghosts 
and austere shades that were the disastrous familiars 
of his youth would not let him run away from the 
block, I, who of course can't be suspected of such 
familiars, was irresistibly impelled to go and see his 



head roll oflF. I wended my way towards the court. 
I didn't hope to be very much impressed or edified, 
or interested or even frightened — though, as long as 
there is any Kfe before one, a jolly good fright now 
and then is a salutary discipline. But neither did I 
expect to be so awfully depressed. The bitterness of 
h is p unishment was in its chill and mean atmosp here^, 

^^^•••■•fcw m I 111*1 - ,m, 

he real significance of crime is in its be ing a breach o f _^ J 
faith with the conunimity of mankind, (^nd from that 
pomt of view he was no mean traitor, but his executioo--- '' 
was a hole-and-corner affair. There was no high 
scaffolding, no scarlet cloth (did they have scarlet cloth 
on Tower Hill? They should have had), no awe- 
stricken multitude to be horrified at his guilt and be 
moved to tears at his fate — ^no air of sombre retribution. 
There was, as I walked along, the clear sunshine, a 
brilliance too passionate to be consoling, the streets full 
of jumbled bits of colour like a damaged kaleidoscope: 
yellow, green, blue, dazzling white, the brown nudity of 
an undraped shoulder, a bullock-cart with a red canopy, 
a company of native infantry in a drab body with dark 
heads marching in dusty laced boots, a native policeman 
in a sombre uniform of scanty cut and belted in patent 
leather, who looked up at me with orientally pitiful 
eyes as though his migrating spirit were suffering ex- 
ceedingly from that unforeseen — ^what d*ye call *em? 
— ^avatar — ^incarnation. Under the shade of a lonely 
tree in the courtyard, the villagers connected with the 
assault case sat in a picturesque group, looking like a 
chromo-lithograph of a camp in a book of Eastern 
travel. One missed the obligatory thread of smoke in 
the foreground and the pack-animals grazing. A blank 
yellow wall rose behind overtopping the tree, reflecting 
the glare. The court-room was sombre, seemed more 
vast. High up in the dim space the pimkahs were 


swaying short to and fro, to and fro. Here and there 
a draped figure, dwarfed by the bare walls, remained 
without stirring amongst the rows of empty benches, as 
if absorbed in pious meditation. The plaintiff, who had 
been beaten, an obese chocolate-coloured man with 
shaved head, one fat breast bare and a bright yellow 
caste-mark above the bridge of his nose, sat in pompous 
immobility: only his eyes glittered, rolling in the gloom, 
and the nostrils dilated and collapsed violently as he 
breathed. Brierly dropped into his seat looking done 
up, as though he had spent the night in sprinting on a 
cinder-track. The pious sailing-ship skipper appeared 
excited and made uneasy movements, as if restraining 
with difficulty an impulse to stand up and exhort us 
earnestly to prayer and repentance. The head of the 
magistrate, delicately pale under the neatly arranged 
hair, resembled the head of a hopeless invalid after he 
had been washed and brushed and propped up in bed. 
He moved aside the vase of flowers — ^a bunch of purple 
with a few pink blossoms on long stalks — and seizing 
in both hands a long sheet of bluish paper, ran his 
eye over it, propped his forearms on the edge of the 
desk, and began to read aloud in an even, distinct, and 
careless voice. 

"By Jove! For all my foolishness about scaffolds 
and heads rolling off — ^I assure you it was infinitely 
worse than a beheading. A heavy sense of finality 
brooded over all this, unrelieved by the hope of rest 
and safety following the fall of the axe. These pro- 
ceedings had all the cold vengefulness of a death- 
sentence, had all the cruelty of a sentence of exile. This 
is how I looked at it that morning — and even now I 
seem to see an undeniable vestige of truth in that 
exaggerated view of a conunon occurrence. You may 
imagine how strongly I felt this at the time. Perhaps 


it is for that reason that I could not bring myself to 
admit the finaKty. The thing was always with me, 
I was always eager to take opinion on it, as though it 
had not been practically settled: individual opinion — 
international opinion — ^by Jove! That Frenchman's, 
for instance. His own country's pronouncement was 
uttered in the passionless and definite phraseology a 
machine would use, if machines could speak. The head 
of the magistrate was half hidden by the paper, his 
brow was like alabaster. 

. "There were several questions before the G)urt. 
Ihe first as to whether the ship was in every respect 
fit and seaworthy for the voyage. The court found 
she was not. The next point, I remember, was, 
whether up to the time of the accident the ship had 
been navigated with proper and seamanUke care. 
They said Yes to that, goodness knows why, and 
then they declared that there was no evidence to show 
the exact cause of the accident. A floating dereUct 
probably. I myself remember that a Norwegian 
barque bound out with a cargo of pitch-pine had been 
given up as missing about that time, and it was just 
the sort of craft that would capsize in a squall and 
float bottom up for months — a kind of maritime ghoid 
on the prowl to kill ships in the dark. Such wandering 
corpses are conunon enough in the North Atlantic, 
which is haunted by all the terrors of the sea, — ^fogs, 
icebergs, dead ships bent upon mischief, and long 
sinister gales t)iat fagt^^ i^ppq j>j>fi like a^varnpire till 
all the strength and the spirit and even hope are goae^. 
and one feels like the empty shell of a man. Btut there 
— ^in those seas — the incident was rare enough to re- 
semble a special arrangement of a malevolent provi- 
dence, which, unless it had for its object the killing 
of a donkeyman and t he bring in g of wQ |'^«gft fh^j} ^PAth 







upon Jim, appeared an utterly aimless piece of devilry. 
This view occurring to me took oflf my attention. For 
a time I was aware of the magistrate's voice as a sound 
merely; but in a moment it shaped itself into distinct 
words • • • *in utter disregard of their plain duty,' 
it said. The next sentence escaped me somehow, and 
then • • . ^abandoning in the moment of danger 
the lives and property confided to their charge* • • . 
went on the voice evenly, and stopped. A pair of eyes 
under the white forehead shot darkly a glance above the 
edge of the paper. I looked for Jim hurriedly, as 
though I had expected him to disappear. He was very 
still — ^but he was there. He sat pink and fair and ex- 
tremely attentive. * Therefore, • • .* began the 
voice emphatically. He stared with parted lips, hang- 
ing upon the words of the man behind the desk. These 
came out into the stillness wafted on the wind made by 
the punkahs, and I, watching for their effect upon him, 
caught only the fragments of official language. . • . 
^l^he Court . . . Gustav So-and-so master 
. . . native of Germany . . . James ^o-and- 
so . • . mate • . .<^eKr)y^Scate&.jcaa3M? A 

silence fell. The magistrate had dropped the paper, 
and leaning sideways on the arm of his chair, began to 
talk with Brierly easily. People started to move out; 
others were pushing in, and I also made for the door. 
Outside I stood still, and when Jim passed me on his 
way to the gate, I caught at his arm and detained him. 
The look he gave discomposed me, as though I had been 
responsible for his state : he looked at me as if I had been 
the embodied evil of life. *It's all over,' I stammered. 
* Yes,* he said, thickly. *And now let no man . . .' 
He jerked his arm out of my grasp. I watched his 
back as he went away. It was a long street, and he 
remained in sight for some time. He walked rather 


slow, and straddling his legs a little, as if he had found 
it difficult to keep a straight line. Just before I lost 
him I fancied he staggered a bit. 

"*Man overboard/ said a deep voice behind me. 
Turning round, I saw a fellow I knew slightly, a West 
Australian; Chester was his name. He, too, had been 
looking after Jim. He was a man with an immense 
girth of chest, a rugged, clean-shaved face of mahogany 
colour, and two blunt tufts of iron-grey, thick wiry 
hairs on his upper lip. He had been pearler, wrecker, 
trader, whaler, too, I believe; in his own words — ^any- 
thing and everything a man may be at sea, but a pirate. 
The Pacific, north and south, was his proper huntmg- 
ground; but he had wandered so far afield looking for a 
cheap steamer to buy. Lately he had discovered — so 
he said — a. guano island somewhere, but its approaches 
were dangerous, and the anchorage, such as it was, 
could not be considered safe, to say the least of it. 
*As good as a gold-mine,' he would exclaim. * Right 
bang in the middle of the Walpole Reefs, and if it's true 
enough that you can get no holding-ground anywhere 
in less than forty fathom, then what of that? There 
are the hurricanes, too. But it's a first-rate thing. 
As good as a gold-mine — ^better! Yet there's not a fool 
of them that will see it. I can't get a skipper or a 
shipowner to go near the place. So I made up my mind 
to cart the blessed stuflF myself.' . . . This was 
what he required a steamer for, and I knew he was just 
then negotiating enthusiastically with a Parsee firm 
for an old, brig-rigged, sea-anachronism of ninety 
horse-power. We had met and spoken together several 
times. He looked knowingly after Jim. * Takes it to 

^« heart?' he asked scornfully. *Very much,' I said. 

^ *llifen he's no good,' he opined. * What's all the to-do 
about? A bit of ass'a skiar."' That never yet made a 



man. You must see things exactly as they are — ^if you 
don't, you may just as well give in at once. You will 
never do anything in this world. Look at me. I made 
it a practice never to take anything to heart.* *Yes/ 
I said, *you see things as they are.* *I wish I could 
see my partner coming along, tliat's what I wish to see,* 
he said. *Know my partner? Old Robinson. Yes; 
the Robinson. Don't you know? The notorious Rob- 
inson. The man who smuggled more opium and 
bagged more seals in his time than any loose Johnny 
now alive. They say he used to board the sealing- 
schooners up Alaska way when the fog was so thick 
that the Lord God, He alone, could tell one man 
from another. Holy-Terror Robinson. That's the 
man. He is with me in that guano thing. The best 
chance he ever came across in his life.' He put his 
Hps to my ear. * CannibalSs-well, they used to give 
him the name years aiid years ago. You remember 
the story? A shipwreck on the west side of Stewart 
Island; that's right; seven of them got ashore, and 
it seems they did not get on very well together. Some 
men are too cantankerous for anything — don't know 
how to make the best of a bad job — don't see things 
as they are — as they arcy my boy! And then what's 
the consequence? Obvious! Trouble, trouble; as 
likely as not a knock on the head; and serve 'em 
right, too. That sort is the most useful when it's 
dead. The story goes that a boat of Her Majesty's 
ship Wolverine found him kneeling on the kelp, naked 
\ as the day he was bom, and chanting some psalm- 
I tune or other; light snow was falling at the time. 
He waited till the boat was an oar's length from the 
shore, and then up and away. They chased him for 
an hour up and down the boulders, till a marine flung 
a stone that took him behind the ear providentially 



and knocked him senseless. Alone? Of course. But 
that's like that tale of sealing-schooners; the Lord God 
knows the right and the wrong of that story. The 
cutter did not investigate much. They wrapped him 
in a boat-cloak and took him off as quick as they could, 
with a dark night coming on, the weather threatening, 
and the ship firing recall guns every five minutes. 
Three weeks afterwards he was as well as ever. He 
didn't allow any fuss that was made on shore to upset 
him; he just shut his lips tight, and let people screech. 
It was bad enough to have lost his ship, and all he was 
worth besides, without paying attention to the hard 
names they called him. That's the man for me.' He 
lifted his arm for a signal to some one down the street. 
*He*s got a little money, so I had to let him into my 
thing. Had to! It would have been sinful to throw 
away such a find, and I was cleaned out myself. It 
cut me to the quick, but I could see the matter just 
as it was, and if I must shar^-thinks I— with any 
man, then give me Robinson. I left him at breakfast 
in the hotel to come to court, because I've an idea. 

Ah! Good morning. Captain Robinson. 
. . . Friend of mine. Captain Robinson.' 

"An emaciated patriarch in a suit of white drill, a 
solah topi with a green-Kned rim on a head trembUng 
with age, joined us after crossing the street in a trotting 
shuffle, and stood propped with both hands on the 
handle of an umbrella. A white beard with amber 
streaks hung lumpily down to his waist. He blinked 
his creased eyelids at me in a bewildered way. *How 
do you do? how do you do?' he piped, amiably, and 
tottered. *A little deaf,' said Chester aside. *Did 
you drag him over six thousand miles to get a cheap 
steamer?' I asked. *I would have taken him twice 
round the world as soon as look at him,' said Chester 


with immense energy. ' The steamer wiU be the making 
of us, my lad. Is it my fault that every skipper and 
shipowner in the whole of blessed Australasia turns 
out a blamed fool? Once I talked for three hours to 
a man in Auckland. '"Send a ship/' I said, ^'send a 
ship. I'll give you half of the first cargo for yourself, 
free gratis for nothing — ^just to make a good start." 
Says he, "I wouldn't do it if there was no other place 
on earth to sent a ship to." Perfect ass, of course. 
Rocks, currents, no anchorage, sheer cliff to lay to, 
no insurance company would take the risk, didn't 
see how he could get loaded under three years. Ass! 
I nearly went on my knees to him. "But look at the 
thing as it is," says I. "Damn rocks and hurricanes. 
Look at it as it is. There's guano there, Queensland 
sugar-planters would fight for — ^fight for on the quay, 
I tell you." . • . What can you do with a fool? 
. • . "That's one of your Kttle jokes, Chester," he 
says. • • • Joke! I could have wept. Ask Cap- 
tain Robinson here. • • . And there was another 
shipowning f eUow— a fat chap in a white waistcoat in 
Wellington, who seemed to think I was up to some 
swindle or other. "I don't know what sort of fool 
you're looking for," he says, "but I am busy just now. 
Good morning." I longed to take him in my two hands 
and smash him through the window of his own office. 
But I didn't. I was as mild as a curate. "Think of 
it," says L "Do think it over. I'll call to-morrow. 
He grunted something about being "out all day. 
On the stairs I felt ready to beat my head against the 
wall from vexation. Captain Robinson here can tell 
you. It was awful to think of all that lovely stuff 
lying waste imder the sun — stuff that would send the 
sugar-cane shooting sky-high. The making of Quee^s- 
land! The making of Queensland! And in Brisbane, 



where I went to have a last try, they gave me the name 
of a lunatic. Idiots! The only sensible man I came 
across was the cabman who drove me about. A 
broken-down swell he was, I fancy. Hey! Captain 
Robinson? You remember I told you about my 
cabby in Brisbane — don't you? The chap had a 
wonderful eye for things. He saw it all in a jiffy. 
It was a real pleasure to talk with him. One evening 
after a devil of a day amongst shipowners I felt so bad 
that, says I, ^'I must get dnmk. 0>me along; I 
must get drunk, or 1*11 go mad.'* **I am your man,'* 
he says; "go ahead." I don't know what I would 
have done without him. Hey! Captain Robinson.' 

"He poked the ribs of his partner. *He! he! 
he!' laughed the Ancient, looked aimlessly down the 
street, then peered at me doubtfully with sad, dim 
pupils. • • • ^He! he! he!' . . . He leaned 
heavier on the umbrella, and dropped his gaze on the 
ground. I needn't tell you I had tried to get away 
several times, but Chester had foiled every attempt by 
simply catching hold of my coat. * One minute. I've a 
notion.' * What's your infernal notion?' I exploded 
at last. ^If you think I am going in with you . • .' 
*No, no, my boy. Too late, if you wanted ever so 
much. We've got a steamer.' * You've got the 
ghost of a steamer,' I said. ^ Good enough for a start — 
there's no superior nonsense about us. Is there. 
Captain Robinson?' ^No! no! no!' croaked the old 
man without lifting his eyes, and the senile tremble 
of his head became almost fierce with determination. 
*I understand you know that yoimg chap,' said Chester, 
with a nod at the street from which Jim had disappeared 
long ago. ^He's been having grub with you in the 
Malabar last night — so I was told.' 

"I said that was true, and after remarking that 


he, too, liked to live well and in style, only that, for 
the present, he had to be saving of every penny — 
^none too many for the business! Isn't that so. 
Captain Robinson?' — ^he squared his shoulders and 
stroked his dumpy moustache, while the notorious 
Robinson, coughing at his side, clung more than ever 
to the handle of the umbrella, and seemed ready to 
subside passively into a heap of old bones. ^You see, 
the old chap has all the money,' whispered Chester, 
confidentially. *I've been cleaned out trying to 
engineer the dratted thing. But wait a bit, wait a 
bit. The good time is coming.' . . . He seemed 
suddenly astonished at the signs of impatience I gave. 
*0h, crakee!' he cried; *I am telling you of the big- 
gest thing that ever was, and you . . .' *I have 
an appointment,' I pleaded mildly. *What of that?' 
he asked with genuine surprise; *let it wait.' ^That's 
exactly what I am doing now,' I remarked; * hadn't 
you better tell me what it is you want? ' *Buy twenty 
hotels like that,' he growled to himself; *and every 
joker boarding in them, too — ^twenty times over.' 
He lifted his head smartly. *I want that young chap.' 
*I don't imderstand,' I said. *He's no good, is he?' 
said Chester, crisply. *I know nothing about it,* I 
protested. *Why, you told me yourself he was taking 
it to heart,' argued Chester. *Well, in my opinion a 
chap who . . . Anyhow, he can't be much good; 
but then you see I am on the look-out for somebody, 
and I've just got a thing that will suit him. I'll 
give him a job on my island.' He nodded signifi- 
cantly. *I'm going to dump forty coolies there — if 
I've got to steal 'em. Somebody must work the stuflF. 
Oh! I mean to act square: wooden shed, corrugated- 
iron roof — ^I know a man in Hobart who will take 
my bill at six months for the materials. I do. Honoiur 


bright. Then there's the water-supply. 1*11 have to 
fly round and get somebody to trust me for half-a-dozen 
second-hand iron tanks. Catch rain-water, hey? 
Let him take charge. Make him supreme boss over 
the coolies. Good idea, isn't it? What do you say?' 
* There are whole years when not a drop of rain falls 
on Walpole,' I said, too amazed to laugh. He bit his 
lip and seemed bothered. *0h, well, I will fix up 
something for them — or land a supply. Hang it all! 
That's not the question.' 

''I said nothing. I had a rapid vision of Jim perched 
on a shadowless rock, up to his knees in guano, with the 
screams of sea-birds in his ears, the incandescent baU 
of the sun above his head; the empty sky and the empty 
ocean all a-quiver, sinunering together in the heat as far 
as the eye could reach. *I wouldn't advise my worst 
enemy . . .' I began. * What's the matter with 
you?' cried Chester; *I mean to give him a good screw — 
that is, as soon as the thing is set going, of course. It's 
as easy as falling off a log. Simply nothing to do; two 
six-shooters in his belt. . . . Surely he wouldn't 
be afraid of anything forty coolies could do — ^with two 
six-shooters and he the only armed man, too! It's 
much better than it looks. I want you to help me 
to talk him over.' *No!' I shouted. Old Robinson 
lifted his bleared eyes dismally for a moment, Chester 
looked at me with infinite contempt. *So you wouldn't 
advise him?' he uttered, slowly. * Certainly not,' I 
answered, as indignant as though he had requested me 
to help murder somebody; * moreover, I am sure he 
wouldn't. He is badly cut up, but he isn't mad as far 
as I know.* *He is no earthly good for anything,* 
Chester mused aloud. ^He would just have done for 
me. If you only could see a thing as it is, you would 
see it's the very thing for him. And besides • . • 



Why! it's the most splendid, sure chance • • .' 
He got angry suddenly. ^ I must have a man. There! 
. • / He stamped his foot and smiled unpleasantly. 
^Anyhow, I could guarantee the island wouldn't sink 
under him — and I believe he is a bit particular on that 
point/ ^Good morning/ I said, curtly. He looked at 
me as though I had been an incomprehensible fool. 
. • • ^Must be moving, Captain Robinson,' he 
yelled suddenly into the old man's ear. * These Parsee 
Johnnies are waiting for us to clinch the bargain.' He 
took his partner under the arm with a firm grip, swung 
him roimd, and, unexpectedly, leered at me over his 
shoulder. *I was trying to do him a kindness,' he 
asserted, with an air and tone that made my blood boil. 
^ Thank you for nothing — ^in his name,' I rejoined. 
*0h! you are devilish smart,' he sneered; *but you are 
like the rest of them. Too much in the clouds. See 
what you will do with him.' ^I don't know that I 
want to do anything with him.' * Don't you?' he 
spluttered; his grey moustache bristled with anger, 
and by his side the notorious Robinson, propped on 
the umbrella, stood with his back to me, as patient 
and still as a worn-out cab-horse. 'I haven't found 
a guano island,' I said. ^It's my belief you wouldn't 
know one if you were led right up to it by the hand,' 
he riposted quickly; *and in this world you've got 
to see a thing first, before you can make use of it. 
Got to see it through and through at that, neither 
more nor less.' *And get others to see it, too,' I in- 
sinuated, with a glance at the bowed back by his 
side. Chester snorted at me. *His eyes are right 
enough — don't you worry. He ain't a puppy.' *0h, 
dear, no!' I said. 'Come along. Captain Robinson,' 
he shouted, with a sort of bullying deference imder 
the rim of the old man's hat; the Holy Terror gave 


a submissive little jump. The ghost of a steamer 
was waiting for them, Fortune on that fair isle ! They 
made a curious pair of Argonauts. Chester strode on 
leisurely, well set up, portly, and of conquering mien; 
the other, long, wasted, drooping, and hooked to his 
arm, shuffled his withered shanks with desperate haste.'' 


^^I DID not start in search of Jim at once, only because 
I had really an appointment which I could not neglect. 
Then, as ill-luck would have it, in my agent's office 
I was fastened upon by a fellow fresh from Madagascar 
with a little scheme for a wonderful piece of business. 
It had something to do with cattle and cartridges and 
a Prince Ravonalo something; but the pivot of the 
whole affair was the stupidity of some admiral — 
Admiral Pierre, I think. Everything turned on that, 
and the chap couldn't find words strong enough to 
express his confidence. He had globular eyes starting 
out of his head with a fishy glitter, bumps on his fore- 
head, and wore his long hair brushed back without a 
parting. He had a favourite phrase which he kept 
on repeating triumphantly, *The mimmum of risk 
with the maximum of profit is my motto. What?' 
He made my head ache, spoiled my tiffin, but got 
his own out of me all right; and as soon as I had shaken 
him off, I made straight for the water-side. I caught 
sight of Jim leaning over the parapet of the quay. 
Three native boatmen quarrelling over five annas 
were making an awful row at his elbow. He didn't 
hear me come up, but spun round as if the slight 
contact of my finger had released a catch. *I was 
looking,' he stammered. I don't remember what I 
said, not much anyhow, but he made no difficulty in 
following me to the hotel. 

"He followed me as manageable as a little child, 
with an obedient air, with no sort of manifestation, 



rather as though he had been waiting for me there to 
come along and carry him oflf. I need not have been 
so surprised as I was at his tractability. On all the 
round earth, which to some seems so big and that 
others affect to consider as rather smaller than a 
mustard-seed, he had no place where he could — what 
shall I say? — where he could withdraw. That's it! 
Withdraw — ^be alone with his loneliness. He walked 
by my side very calm, glancing here and there, and 
once turned his head to look after a Sidiboy fireman 
in a cutaway coat and yellowish trousers, whose black 
face had silky gleams like a lump of anthracite coal. 
I doubt, however, whether he saw anything, or even 
remained all the time aware of my companionship, 
because if I had not edged him to the left here, or 
pulled him to the right there, I believe he would have 
gone straight before him in any direction till stopped 
by a wall or some other obstacle. I steered him into 
my bedroom, and sat down at once to write letters. 
This was the only place in the world (unless, perhaps, 
the Walpole Reef — ^but that was not so handy) where 
he could have it out with himself without being both- 
ered by the rest of the universe. The danmed thing 
— as he had expressed it — ^had not made him invisible, 
but I behaved exactly as though he were. No sooner 
in my chair I bent over my writing-desk like a medieval 
scribe, and, but for the movement of the hand holding 
the pen, remained anxiously quiet. I can't say I was 
frightened; but I certainly kept as still as if there had 
been something dangerous in the room, that at the first 
hint of a movement on my part would be provoked to 
poimce upon me. There was not much in the room — 
you know how these bed-rooms are — ^a sort of four- 
poster bedstead under a mosquito-net, two or three 
chairs, the table I was writing at, a bare floor. A glass 


door opened on an upstairs verandah, and he stood with 
his face to it, having a hard time with all possible 
privacy. Dusk fell; I lit a candle with the greatest 
economy of movement and as much prudence as though 
it were an illegal proceeding. There is no doubt that 
he had a very hard time of it, and so had I, even to the 
point, I must own, of wishing him to the devil, or on 
Walpole Reef at least. It occurred to me once or 
twice that, after all, Chester was, perhaps, the man 
to deal effectively with such a disaster. That strange 
idealist had found a practical use for it at once — 
unerringly, as it were// It wfts enough to make one 
suspect fhatr maybe, he really could see the true 
aspect of things that appeared mysterious or utterly 
hoprfess tXT less. JLmagnative persons. T' wrote and 
wrote; I liquidated aJTlEe lQrF(5SR*'?Sf my correspond- 
ence, and then went on writing to people who had 
no reason whatever to expect from me a gossipy letter 
about nothing at all. At times I stole a sidelong 
glance. He was rooted to the spot, but convulsive 
shudders ran down his back; his shoulders would 
heave suddenly. He was fighting, he was fighting — 
mostly for his breath, as it seemed. The massive 
shadows, cast all one way from the straight flame 
of the candle, seemed possessed of gloomy conscious- 
ness; the immobility of the furniture had to my furtive 
eye an air of attention. I was becoming fanciful in the 
midst of my industrious scribbling; and though, when 
the scratching of my pen stopped for a moment, there 
was complete silence and stillness in the room, I suffered 
from that profound disturbance and confusion of thought 
which is caused by a violent and menacing uproar — of a 
heavy gale at sea, for instance. Some of you may know 
what I mean, — ^that mingled anxiety, distress, and ir- 
ritation with a sort of craven feeling creeping in — ^not 


pleasant to acknowledge, but which gives a quite special 
merit to one's endurance. I don't claim any merit 
for standing the stress of Jim's emotions; I could 
take refuge in the letters; I could have written to 
strangers if necessary. Suddenly, as I was taking 
up a fresh sheet of notepaper, I heard a low sound, 
the first sound that, since we had been shut up to- 
gether, had come to my ears in the dim stillness of 
the room. I remained with my head down, with my 
hand arrested. Those who have kept vigil by a sick- 
bed have heard such faint sounds in the stillness of 
the night watches, sounds wrung from a racked body, 
from a weary soul. He pushed the glass door with 
such force that all the panes rang: he stepped out, 
and I held my breath, straining my ears without 
knowing what else I expected to hear. He was really 
taking too much to heart an empty formality which to 
Chester's rigorous criticism seemed unworthy the 
notice of a man who could see things as they were. 
An empty formality; a piece of parchment. Well, 
well. As to the inaccessible guano deposit, that 
was another story altogether. One could intelligibly 
break one's heart over that. A feeble burst of many 
voices mingled with the tinkle of silver and glass 
floated up from the dining-room below; through the 
open door the outer edge of the light from my candle 
fell on his back faintly; beyond all was black; he 
stood on the brink of a vast obscurity, like a lonely 
figure by the shore of a sombre and hopeless ocean. 
There was the Walpole Reef in it — ^to be sure — ^a 
speck in the dark void, a straw for the drowning man. 
My compassion for him took the shape of the thought 
that I wouldn't have liked his people to see him at 
that moment. I found it trying myself. His back 
was no longer shaken by his gasps; he stood straight 


MB an anoWy iaintfy visiUe and still; and tbe mean- 
ing cl tliis atilhifaii sank to tbe botU»n cl my aool 
like lead into tbe water, and made it ao heavy that 
for a aeoond I wished heartify that the ooiy oomse 
left open for me were to pay for his fimeraL Even 
the law had done with him. To bmy him would 
have been such an easy kindness! It would have 
been so mudi in aocotdanoe with the wisdom of life, 
which consiste in patting out of sight aO the ramndeis 
of our tcSfy^ of our weakness, of our mortality; all that 
makes against our efficiency— the memoiy of our 
frihires, the hints of our undying fears, the bodies of our 
deadfriends. Perhaps he dki take it too mudi to hearL 
And if so then — Cliester's offer. . . . Atthispmnt 
I todL up a fresh sheet and began to write resolutdy. 
There was nothing but mysdf between him and the dark 
ocean. I had a sense of responsibility. UI qioke, 
would that motionless and sufferin^youth leaplnto-the 
i* — c4{scurity — clutch at ^e^jdiawB^ I IFound out how 
; d£^uinrnia5^ be iEk>metimes to make a sound. Th^ie 
I is a wdrd power in a spoken word. And why the 
I devil not? I was asking myself persistently while I 
drove on with my writing. All at once, on the blank 
/ page, under the v^y point of the pen, the two figures 
of Chester and his antique partner, very distinct 
' and complete, would dodge into view with stride and 
gestures, as if reproduced in the fidd of some optical 
toy. I would watch them for a while. No! They 
were too phantasmal and extravagant to enter into 
any one's fate. And a word carries far — ^very far — 
deals destruction through time as the bullets go flying 
ttffough space. I said nothing; and he, out there 
with his back to the light, as if bound, and gagged 
hgr aD the invisible foes of man, made no stir and 
wSit no sound.^ 


**The time was coming when I should see him loved, 
trusted, admired, with a l^end of strength and prowess 
forming round his name as though he had been the stuff 
of a hero. It's true — ^I assiu*e you; as true as I'm sit- 
ting here talking about him in vain. He, on his side, 
had that faculty of beholding at a hint the face of his 
desire and the shape of his dream, without which the 
earth would know no lover and no adventurer. He 
captured much honour and an Arcadian happiness 
(I won't say anything about innocence) in the bush, 
and it was as good to him as the honour and the Ar- 
cadian happiness of the streets to another man. Fe- 
licity, felicity — ^how shall I say it? — ^is quaffed out of a 
golden cup in every latitude: the flavour is with you — 
with you alone, and you can make it as intoxicating as 
you please. He was of the sort that would drink deep, 
as you may guess from what went before. I found 
him, if not exactly intoxicated, then at least flushed 
with the elixir at his lips. He had not obtained it at 
once. There had been, as you know, a period of pro- 
bation amongst infernal ship-chandlers, during which 
he had suffered and I had worried about — ^about — ^my 
trust — ^you may call it. I don't know that I am com- 
pletely reassured now, after beholding him in all his 
brilliance. That was my last view of him — ^in a strong 
light, dominating, and yet in complete accord with his 
surroundings — with the life of the forests and with the 
life of men. I own that I was impressed, but I must 
admit to niyself that after all this is not the lasting im- 


176 LORD JDl 

presflioii* He was protected by his isdatHm^akMieclliis 
own sopeficv ldiid» in dose toodi with Nature, that 
keeps faith on such easjr terms with her lovers. But 
I cannot fix before my eye the image of his safety. 
I shall always remember him as seai throu^ the cpeai 
door of my room, taking, pohaps, too mudi to heart 
the mere consequences of his failure. I am {leased, of 
course, that some good — and even some i^endour — 
came out of my endeavours; but at times it seems to me 
it would have been better for my peace of mind if I had 
not stood between him and Chester's confoundedly 
goierous offer. I wonder what his exuberant imagina- 
tion would have made of Walpole islet — that most 
hopelessly forsaken crumb of dry land on the face of 
the watfars. It is not likdy I would ever have heard, 
for I must tell you that Chester, after calling at some 
Australian port to patch up his brig-rigged sea-anach- 
ronism, steamed out into the Pacific with a crew 
of twenty-two hands all told, and the only news hav- 
ing a possible bearing upon the mystery of his fate 
was the news of a hurricane which is supposed to have 
swept in its course over the Walpole shoals, a month 
or so afterwards. Not a vestige of the Argonauts 
ever turned up; not a sound came out of the waste. 
Finis! The Pacific is the most discreet of live, hot- 
tempered oceans: the chiUy Antarctic can keep a 

r - secret, too, but more in the manner of a grave. 

I ''And there is a sense of blessed finality in such 

discretion, which is what we all more or less sincerely 
are ready to admit — ^for what else is it that makes 
the idea of death supportable? End! Finis! the 
potent word that exorcises from the house of life the 
haunting shadow of fate. This is what — ^notwith- 
standing the testimony of my eyes and his own earnest 
assurances — ^I miss when I look back upon Jim's 


success. While there's life there is hope, truly; but 
there is fear, too. I don't mean to say that I regret my 
action, nor will I pretend that I can't sleep o' nights in 
consequence; still the idea obtrudes itself that he made j 
so much of his disgrace while it is the guilt alone thai/ 
matters. He was not — ^if I may say so — clear to me. 
He was not clear. And there is a suspicion he was not 
clear to himself either. There were his fine sensibiUties, 
his fine feelings, his fine longings — a. sort of sublimated, 
idealised selfishness. He was — ^if you allow me to say 
so — ^very fine; very fine — ^and very imfortunate. A 
Kttle coarser nature woidd not have borne the strain; 
it would have had to come to terms with itself — with a 
sigh, with a grunt, or even with a guffaw; a still coarser 
one would have remained invulnerably ignorant and 
completely uninteresting. 

"But he was too interesti^ -or tog. unJortunate^ N 

to be thrown to the dogs, jbr even to Chester. I 
felt this while I sat with my face over the paper and 
he fought and gasped, struggling for his breath in 
that terribly stealthy way, in my room; I felt it when 
he rushed out on the verandah as if to fling himself over 
— ^and didn't; I felt it more and more all the time he 
remained outside, faintly lighted on the background of 
night, as if standing on the shore of a sombre and hope^ 
less sea. 

"An abrupt heavy rumble made me lift my head. 
The noise seemed to roll away, and suddenly a search- 
ing and violent glare fell on the blind face of the 
night. The sustained and dazzling flickers seemed 
to last for an unconscionable time. The growl of 
the thunder increased steadily while I looked at 
him, distinct and bla<;k, planted solidly upon the 
shores of a sea of light. At the moment of greatest 
brilliance the darkness leaped back with a culmi- 


nating crash, and he vanished before my dazzled eyes 
as utterly as though he had been blown to atoms. A 
blustering sigh passed; furious hands seemed to tear 
at the shrubs, shake the tops of the trees below, slam 
doors, break window-panes, all along the front of the 
building. He stepped in, closing the door behind him, 
and found me bending over the table: my sudden 
anxiety as to what he would say was very great, and 
akin to a fright. 'May I have a cigarette?' he asked. 
I gave a push to the box without raising my head. 'I 
want — ^want — ^tobacco,' he muttered. I became ex- 
tremely buoyant. 'Just a moment,' I grunted, pleas- 
antly. He took a few steps here and there. 'That's 
over,' I heard him say. A single distant clap of thun- 
der came from the sea like a gun of distress. 'The 
monsoon breaks up early this year,' he remarked, con- 
versationally, somewhere behind me. This encouraged 
me to turn round, which I did as soon as I had finished 
addressing the last envelope. He was smoking greedily 
in the middle of the room, and though he heard the stir 
I made, he remained with his back to me for a time. 

'"Come — ^I carried it oflf pretty well,' he said, 
wheeling suddenly. 'Something's paid oflf — ^not much. 
I wonder what's to come.' His face did not show any 
emotion, only it appeared a little darkened and swollen, 
as though he had been holding his breath. He smiled 
reluctantly as it were, and went on while I gazed up 
at him mutely. . . . 'Thank you, though — your 
room — ^jolly convenient — ^for a chap — ^badly hipped.' 
. • . The rain pattered and swished in the garden; 
a water-pipe (it must have had a hole in it) performed 
just outside the window a parody of blubbering woe 
with funny sobs and gurgling lamentations, inter- 
rupted by jerky spasms of silence. . • . *A bit 
of shelter,' he mmnbled and ceased. 


**A flash of faded lightning darted in through the 
black framework of the windows and ebbed out without 
any noise. I was thinking how I had best approach 
him (I did not want to be flung off again) when he gave 
a little laugh. ^No better than a vagabond now' 
. . • the end of the cigarette smouldered between 
his fingers • . • 'without a single — single,' he 
pronounced slowly; *and yet . . .' He paused; 
the rain fell with redoubled violence. *Some day one's 
bound to come upon some sort of chance to get it all 
back again. Must!' he whispered, distinctly, glaring 
at my boots. 

*'I did not even know what it was he wished so much 
to regain, what it was he had so terribly missed. It 
might have been so much that it was impossible to 
say. A piece of ass's skin, according to Chester. 
. . • He looked up at me inquisitively. * Perhaps. 
If life's long enough,' I muttered through my teeth 
with unreasonable animosity. ^ Don't reckon too 
much on it.' 

"*Jove! I feel as if nothing could ever touch 
me,' he said in a tone of sombre conviction. *If 
this business couldn't knock me over, then there's 
no fear of there being not enough time to — climb 
out, and . . .' He looked upwards. 

"It struck me that it is from such as he that the 
great army of waifs and strays is recruited, the army 
that marches down, down into all the gutters of the 
earth. As soon as he left my room, that *bit of shelter,' 
he would take his place in the ranks, and begin the 
journey towards the bottomless pit. I at least had no 
illusions; but it was I, too, who a moment ago had been 
so sure of the power of words, and now was afraid to 
speak, in the same way one dares not move for fear of 
losing a slippery hold. It is when we try to grapple 


with another man's intimate need that we perceive how 
incomprehensible, wavering, and misty are the beings 
that share with us the sight of the stars and the warmth 
of the sun. It is as if loneUness were a hard and ab- 
solute condition of existence; the envelope of flesh and 
blood on which our eyes are fixed melts before the out- 
stretched hand, and there remains only the capricious, 
unconsolable, and elusive spirit that no eye can follow, 
no hand can grasp. It was the fear of losing him that 
kept me silent, for it was borne upon me suddenly and 
with unaccountable force that should I let him slip away 
into the darkness I would never forgive myself. 

"*Well. Thanks — once more. YouVe been — er — 
uncommonly — ^really there's no word to . . • Un- 
commonly! I don't know why, I am sure. I am 
afraid I don't feel as grateful as I would if the whole 
thing hadn't been so brutally sprung on me. Because 
at bottom . . . you, yourself . . .' He stut- 

Possibly,' I struck in. He frowned. 
All the same, one is responsible.' He watched me 
like a hawk. 

"*And that's true, too,' I said. 

"*Well. I've gone with it to the end, and I don't 
intend to let any man cast it in my teeth without — 
without — ^resenting it.' He clenched hid fist. 

"'There's yourself,' I said with a smile — ^mirthless 
enough, God knows — ^but he looked at me menacingly. 
'That's my business,' he said. An air of indomitable 
resolution came and went upon his face like a vain 
and passing shadow. Next moment he looked a dear 
good boy in trouble, as before. He flung away the 
cigarette. * Good-bye,' he said, with the sudden haste 
of a man who had lingered too long in view of a pressing 
bit of work waiting for him; and then for a second or so 

cc < 


he made not the slightest movement. The downpour 
fell with the heavy iminterrupted rush of a sweeping 
flood, with a sound of unchecked overwhelming fury 
that called to one's mind the images of collapsing 
bridges, of uprooted trees, of undermined mountains. 
No man could breast the colossal and headlong stream 
that seemed to break and swirl against the dim stillness 
in which we were precariously sheltered as if on an 
island. The perforated pipe gurgled, choked, spat, and 
splashed in odious ridicule of a swinmier fighting for his 
life. *It is raining,' I remonstrated, *and I • . / 
*Rain or shine,' he began, brusquely, checked himself, 
and walked to the window. * Perfect deluge,' he mut- 
tered after a while : he leaned his forehead on the glass. 
*It's dark, too.' 

"*Yes, it is very dark,' I said. 

"He pivoted on his heels, crossed the room, and 
had actually opened the door leading into the cor- 
ridor before I leaped up from my chair. *Wait, 
I cried, *I want you to . . .' *I can't dine with 
you again to-night,' he flimg at me, with one leg 
out of the room already. *I haven't the sUghtest 
intention to ask you,' I shouted. At this he drew 
back his foot, but remained mistrustfully in the very 
doorway. I lost no time in entreating him earnestly 
not to be absurd; to come in and shut the door." 


"He came in at last; but I believe it was mostly 
the rain that did it; it was falling just then with a 
devastating violence which quieted down graduaDy 
while we talked. His manner was very sober and 
set; his bearing was that of a naturally taciturn man 
possessed by an idea. My talk was of the material 
aspect of his position; it had the sole aim of saving him 
from the degradation, ruin, and despair that out there 
close so swiftly upon a friendless, homeless man; I 
pleaded with him to accept my help; I argued reason- 
ably: and every time I looked up at that absorbed 
smooth face, so grave and youthful, I had a disturbing 
sense of being no help but rather an obstacle to some 
mysterious, inexplicable, impalpable striving of his 
wounded spirit. 

"'I suppose you intend to eat and drink and to 
sleep imder shelter in the usual way,* I remember 
saying with irritation. *You say you won't touch 
the money that is due to you.* . . . He came as 
near as his sort can to making a gesture of horror. 
(There were three weeks and five days* pay owing 
him as mate of the Paina.) *Well, that's too little 
to matter anyhow; but what will you do to-morrow? 
Where will you turn? You must live . . .* *That 
isn't the thing,* was the comment that escaped him 
under his breath. I ignored it, and went on combating 
what I assumed to be the scruples of an exaggerated 
delicacy. *0n every conceivable ground,* I concluded, 



*you must let me help you/ * You can't,' he said very 
simply and gently, and holding fast to some deep idea 
which I could detect shimmering like a pool of water 
in the dark, but which I despaired of ever approaching 
near enough to fathom. I surveyed his well-propor- 
tioned bulk. 'At any rate,' I said, *I am able to 
help what I can see of you. I don't pretend to do 
more.' He shook his head sceptically without looking 
at me. I got very warm. *But I can,' I insisted. *I 
can do even more. I am doing more. I am trusting 
you . . .' *The money . . .'he b^an. 
*Upon my word you deserve being told to go to the 
devil,' I cried, forcing the note of indignation. He 
was startled, smiled, and I pressed my attack home. 
*It isn't a question of money at all. You are too 
superficial,' I said (and at the same time I was thinking 
to myself: Well, here goes! And perhaps he is after 
all). 'Look at the letter I want you to take. I am 
writing to a man of whom I've never asked a favour, 
and I am writing about you in terms that one only 
ventures to use when speaking of an intimate fri 
I make myself unreservedly responsible for you. 
That's what I am doing. And really if you will only 
reflect a little what that means . . •' 

''He lifted his head. The rain had passed away; 
only the water-pipe went on shedding tears with an 
absurd drip, drip outside the window. It was very 
quiet in the room, whose shadows huddled together 
in comers, away from the still flame of the candle 
flaring upright in the shape of a dagger; his face after 
a while seemed suffused by a reflection of a soft light 
as if the dawn had broken already. 

'Jove!' he gasped out. 'It is noble of you I' 
Had he suddenly put out his tongue at me in 
derision, I could not have felt more humiliated. I 


thought to myself — Serve me right for a sneaking 
hmnbug. . . . His eyes shone straight into my face, 
but I perceived it was not a mocking brightness. 
All at once he sprang into jerky agitation, like one 
of those flat wooden figures that are worked by a 
string. His arms went up, then came down with 
a slap. He became another man altogether. *And 
I had never seen/ he shouted; then suddenly bit 
his lip and frowned. ^VWiat a bally ass IVe been/ 
he said very slow in an awed tone. . . . *You are 
a brick/ he cried next in a muffled voice. He snatched 
my hand as though he had just then seen it for the first 
time, and dropped it at once. *Why! this is what I — 
you — ^I . . .'he stammered, and then with a return 
of his old stolid, I may say mulish, manner he began 
heavily, *I would be a brute now if I . . .' and then 
his voice seemed to break. * That's all right,* I said. 
I was almost alarmed by this display of feeling, through 
which pierced a strange elation. I had pulled the string 
accidentally, as it were; I did not fully understand the 
working of the toy. *I must go now,' he said. *Jove! 
You have helped me. Can't sit still. The very thing 
. • .' He looked at me with puzzled admiration. 
*The very thing . . .' 

"Of course it was the thing. It was ten to one 
that I had saved him from starvation — of that peculiar 
sort that is almost invariably associated with drink. 
This was all. I had not a single illusion on that score, 
but looking at him, I allowed myself to wonder at the 
nature of the one he had, within the last three minutes, so 
evidently taken into his bosom. I had forced into his 
hand the means to carry on decently the serious busi- 
ness of life, to get food, drink, and shelter of the custom- 
ary kind while his wounded spirit, like a bird with a 
broken wing, might hop and flutter into some hole to die 


quietly of Inanition there. This is what I had thrust 
upon him: a definitely small thing; and — ^behold! — 
by the manner of its reception it loomed in the dim 
light of the candle like a big, indistinct, perhaps a 
dangerous shadow. *You don't mind me not saying 
anything appropriate/ he burst out. * There isn't 
anything one could say. Last night already you had 
done me no end of good. Listening to me — ^you know. 
I give you my word I've thought more than once the 
top of my head would fly oflF . . / He darted — 
positively darted — ^here and there, rammed his hands 
into his pockets, jerked them out again, flimg his cap 
on his head. I had no idea it was in him to be so airily 
brisk. I thought of a dry leaf imprisoned in an eddy of 
wind, while a mysterious apprehension, a load of in- 
definite doubt, weighed me down in my chair. He 
stood stock-still, as if struck motionless by a discovery. 
*You have given me confidence,' he declared, soberly. 
*0h! for God's sake, my dear fellow — don't!' I en- 
treated, as though he had hurt me. * All right. I'll shut 
up now and henceforth. Can't prevent me thinking 
though. . . . Never mind! . . . I'll show yet 
. . .' He went to the door in a hurry, paused with 
his head down, and came back, stepping deliberately. 
*I always thought that if a fellow could begin with a 
clean slate . • . And now you . . . in a 
measure . . . yes . . . clean slate.' I waved 
my hand, and he marched out without looking back; 
the sound of his footfalls died out gradually behind the 
closed door — ^the unhesitating tread of a man walking in 
broad daylight. 

"But as to me, left alone with the solitary candle, 
I remained strangely unenlightened. I was no longer 
young enough to behold at every turn the magnifi- 
cence that besets our insignificant footsteps in good 



and in evil I smiled to think that, after all, it was 
yet Jhfift^f us two, who had the light. And I felt 
saa>^A clean slate, did he say? As if the initial word 
" of each our destiny were not graven in imperishable 
characters upon the face of a rock/' 


"Six months afterwards my friend (he was a cynical, 
more than middle-aged bachelor, with a reputation for 
eccentricity, and owned a rice-mill) wrote to me, and 
judging, from the warmth of my reconmiendation, that 
I would like to hear, enlarged a little upon Jim's per- 
fections. These were apparently of a quiet and 
effective sort. 'Not having been able so far to find 
more in my heart than a resigned toleration for any 
individual of my kind, I have lived till now alone in a 
house that even in this steaming climate could be con- 
sidered as too big for one man. I have had him 
to live with me for some time past. It seems I haven't 
made a mistake.' It seemed to me on reading this 
letter that my friend had found in his heart more than 
tolerance for Jim, — ^that there were the beginnings of 
active liking. Of course he stated his grounds in a 
characteristic way. For one thing, Jim kept his 
freshness in the climate. Had he been a girl — ^my friend 
wrote — one could have said he was blooming — ^bloom- 
ing modestly — ^like a violet, not like some of these 
blatant tropical flowers. He had been in the house for 
six weeks, and had not as yet attempted to slap him on 
the back, or address him as *old boy,' or try to make him 
feel a superannuated fossil. He had nothing of the exas- 
perating yoimg man's chatter. He was good-tempered, 
had not much to say for himself, was not clever by 
any means, thank goodness — wrote my friend. It 
appeared, however, that Jim was clever enough to 
be quietly appreciative of his wit, while, on the other 



hand, he amused him by his nalveness. *The dew 
is yet on him, and since I had the bright idea of giv- 
ing him a room in the house and having him at meals 
I feel less withered myself. The other day he took it 
into his head to cross the room with no other purpose 
but to open a door for me; and I felt more in touch with 
mankind than I had been for years. Ridiculous, isn't 
it? Of course I guess there is something — some awful 
little scrape — ^which you know all about — but if I am 
sure that it is terribly heinous, I fancy one could manage 
to forgive it. For my part, I declare I am unable to 
imagine him guilty of anything much worse than 
robbing an orchard. Is it much worse? Perhaps 
you ought to have told me; but it is such a long time 
since we both turned saints that you may have forgotten 
we, too, had sinned in our time? It may be that some 
day I shall have to ask you, and then I shall expect to 
be told. I don't care to question him myself till I 
have some idea what it is. Moreover, it's too soon as 
yet. Let him open the door a few times more for me. 
. . .* Thus my friend. I was trebly pleased — at 
Jim's shaping so well, at the tone of the letter, at my own 
cleverness. Evidently I had known what I was doing. 
I had read characters aright, and so on. And what 
if something unexpected and wonderful were to come 
df it? That evening, reposing in a deck-chair under 
tbe ahade of my own poop awning (it was in Hong- 
Ecmg harbour), I laid on Jim's behalf the first stone 
of a castle in Spain. 

**I made a trip to the northward, and when I re- 
turned I found another letter from my friend wait- 
ing for me. It was the first envelope I tore open. 
*1!li.ere are no spoons missing, as far as I know,' ran 
&e first line; 'I haven't been interested enough to in- 
qidie. He is gone* leaving on the breakfast-table a 

■ "^ 

7; ijp^^' k'y^ t^-^- ^"'h-' 


formal little note of apology, which is either silly or 
heartless. Probably both — ^and it's all one to me. 
Allow me to say, lest you should have some more 
mysterious young men in reserve, that I have shut up 
shop, definitely and for ever. This is the last eccen- 
tricity I shall be guilty of. Do not imagine for a 
moment that I care a hang; but he is very much re- 
gretted at tennis-parties, and for my own sake IVe told 
a plausible lie at the club. • • .' I flung the letter 
aside and started looking through the batch on mj, 

table, till I came "F'^^^jl!!- han^^'^^"^ - -Would you \ 
believe it? One chaSSce in a hundred! But it is--' 
always that hundredth chance! That little second 
engineer of the Patna had turned up in a more or 
less destitute state, and got a temporary job of looking 
after the machinery of the mill. *I couldn't stand the 
familiarity of the little beast,' Jim wrote from a sea- 
port seven hundred miles south of the place where he 
should have been in clover. *I am now for the time 
with Egstrom & Blake, ship-chandlers, as their — ^well — 
runner, to call the thing by its right name. For ref- 
erence I gave them your name, which they know of 
course, and if you could write a word in my favour it 
would be a permanent employment.' I was utterly 
crushed under the ruins of my castle, but of course I 
wrote as desired. Before the end of the year my new 
charter took me that way, and I had an opportunity of 
seeing him. 

"He was still with Egstrom & Blake, and we met 
in what they called *our parlour' opening out of the 
store. He had that moment come in from boarding a 
ship, and confronted me head down, ready for a tussle. 
*What have you got to say for yourself?' I began as 
soon as we had shaken hands. *What I wrote you — 
nothing more,' he said stubbornly. *Did the fellow 



blab — or what? ' I asked. He looked up at me with a 
troubled smile. 'Oh, no! He didn't. He made it a 
kind of confidential business between us. He was most 
damnably mysterious whenever I came over to the mill; 
he would wink at me in a respectful manner — ^as 
much as to say, "We know what we know/* Infer- 
nally fawning and familiar — and that sort of thing.' 
He threw himself into a chair and stared down his 
legs. 'One day we happened to be alone and the 
fellow had the cheek to say, "WeU, Mr. James" — 
I was caUed Mr. James there as if I had been the 
son — "here we are together once more. This is 
better than the old ship — ^ain't it?" . . . Wasn't 
it appalling, eh? I looked at him, and he put on 
a knowmg air. "Don't you be uneasy, sir," he 
says. "I know a gentleman when I see one, and 
I know how a gentleman feels. I hope, though, 
you will be keeping me on this job. I had a hard time 
of it, too, along of that rotten old Palna racket." 
Jove! It was awful. I don't know what I should 
have said or done if I had not just then heard Mr. 
Denver calling me in the passage. It was tiffin-time, 
and we walked together across the yard and through the 
garden to the bimgalow. He began to chaff me in his 
kindly way ... I believe he liked me . . .' 

"Jim was silent for a while. 

"'I know he liked me. That's what made it so 
hard. Such a splendid man! That morning he 
slipped his hand under my arm. • • . He, too, was 
familiar with me.' He burst into a short laugh, 
and dropped his chin on his breast. 'Pah! When 
I remembered how that mean little beast had been 
talking to me,' he began suddenly in a vibrating 
voice, 'I couldn't bear to think of myseM ... I 
suppose you know . . .' I nodded. . . .'More 


like a father/ he cried; his voice sank, ^I would have 
had to teU him. I couldn't let it go on — could I?' 
*Well?' I murmured, after waiting a while, *I pre- 
ferred to go/ he said, slowly; 'this thing must be buried/ 
''We could hear in the shop Blake upbraiding 
Egstrom in an abusive, strained voice. They had 
been associated for many years, and every day from 
the moment the doors were opened to the last minute 
before closing, Blake, a little man with sleek, jetty hair 
and imhappy, beady eyes, could be heard rowing his 
partner incessantly with a sort of scathing and plaintive 
fiuy. The sound of that everlasting scolding was part 
of the place like the other fixtures; even strangers would 
very soon come to disregard it completely unless it be 
perhaps to mutter 'Nuisance,' or to get up suddenly and 
shut the door of the 'parlour.' Egstrom himself, a raw- 
boned, heavy Scandinavian, with a busy manner 
and immense blonde whiskers, went on directing 
his people, checking parcels, making out bills or writ- 
ing letters at a stand-up desk in the shop, and com- 
ported himself in that clatter exactly as though he 
had been stone-deaf. Now and again he would emit 
a bothered perfunctory 'Sssh,' which neither pro- 
duced nor was expected to produce the slightest 
effect. 'They are very decent to me here,* said Jim. 
'Blake's a little cad, but Egstrom's all right.' He 
stood up quickly, and walking with measured steps 
to a tripod telescope standing in the window and 
pointed at the roadstead, he applied his eye to it. 
'There's that ship which had been becalmed out- 
side all the morning has got a breeze now and is com- 
ing in,' he remarked, patiently; 'I must go and board.' 
We shook hands in silence, and he turned to go. ' Jim ! ' 
I cried. He looked round with his hand on the lock. 
'You — ^you have thrown away something like a fortune.' 


He came back to me aD the way bom the door. ^Sosh 
a sploidid old chap/ he said. 'How could I? How 
cotildl?' His lips twitched, 'fli^rv it does not matter/ 

^Ohl you — yon * I began, and had to cast about for 

a suitable word, but before I became aware that 
there was no name that would just do, he was gcme. 
I heard outside Egstrom's deq> gentle voice saying 
dieerily, 'lliat's the Sarah W. Granger^ Jimmy. You 
must manage to be first aboard'; and directly Blake 
struck in, screaming after the manner of an out- 
raged cockatoo, 'TeU the captain we've got some 
of his mail here. That'll fetch him. D'ye hear. 
Mister What's-your-name?' And there was Jim an- 
swering E^strom with something boyish in his tone. 
'All ri^t. Ill make a race of it.' He seemed to take 
refuge in the boat-sailing part of that sorry business. 

''I did not see him again that trip, but on my next 
(I had a six months' charter) I went up to the store. 
Ten yards away from the door Blake's scolding met 
my ears, and when I came in he gave me a glance of 
utter wretchedness; Egstrom, all smiles, advanced, 
extending a large bony hand. ^Glad to see you, 
captain. . . . Sssh. , . . Been thinking you 
were about due back here. What did you say, sir? 
• . . Sssh. • • . Oh! him! He has left us. 
Come into the parlour.* . . . After the slam of the 
door Blake's strained voice became faint, as the voice 
of one scolding desperately in a wilderness. . . . 
*Put us to a great inconvenience, too. Used us badly — 
I must say . . .' * Where's he gone to? Do you 
know?' I asked. *No. It's no use asking either,' 
said Egstrom, standing bewhiskered and obliging be- 
fore me with his arms hanging down his sides clumsily 
and a thin silver watch-chain looped very low on a 
rucked-up blue serge waistcoat. * A man like that don't 


go anywhere in particular/ I was too concerned at the 
news to ask for the explanation of that pronounce- 
ment, and he went on. *He left — diet's see — the 
very day a steamer with returning pilgrims from the 
Red Sea put in here with two blades of her propeller 
gone. Three weeks ago now.* *Wasn*t there some- 
thing said about the Patna case?' I asked, fearing the 
worst. He gave a start, and looked at me as if I had 
been a sorcerer. *Why, yes! How do you know? 
Some of them were talking about it here. There was a 
captain or two, the manager of Vanlo's engineering shop 
at the harbour, two or three others, and myself. Jim 
was in here, too, having a sandwich and a glass of beer; 
when we are busy — ^you see, captain — ^there's no time 
for a proper tiffin. He was standing by this table eat- 
ing sandwiches, and the rest of us were round the tele- 
scope watching that steamer come in; and by and by 
Vanlo's manager began to talk about the chief of 
the Patna; he had done some repairs for him once, 
and from that he went on to tell us what an old ruin 
she was, and the money that had been made out of 
her. He came to mention her last voyage, and then 
we all struck in. Some said one thing and some 
another — ^not much — ^what you or any other man 
might say; and there was some laughing. Captain 
O'Brien of the Sarah W. GrangeTy a large, noisy old 
man with a stick — ^he was sitting listening to us in 
this arm-chair here — ^he let drive suddenly with his 
stick at the floor, and roars out, "Skunks!" • . . 
Made us all jump. Vanlo's manager winks at us 
and asks, "What's the matter. Captain O'Brien?" 
"Matter! matter!" the old man began to shout; 
"what are you Injuns laughing at? It's no laugh- 
ing matter. It's a disgrace to human natur' — ^that's 
what it is. I would despise being seen in the same 


room with one of those men. Yes» sir!'* He seemed 
to catch my eye like, and I had to speak out of civility. 
"Skunks!" says I, "of course, Captain O'Brien, and I 
wouldn't care to have them here myself, so you're quite 
safe in this room. Captain O'Brien. Have a little some- 
thing cool to drink." "Dam' your drink, Egstrom," 
says he, with a twinkle in his eye; "when I want a drink 
I will shout for it. I am going to quit. It stinks here 
now." At this all the others burst out laughing, and 
out they go after the old man. And then, sir, that 
blasted Jim he puts down the sandwich he had in his 
hand and walks round the table to me; there was his 
glass of beer poured out quite fuU. "I am off," he 
says — ^just like this. "It isn't half -past one yet," 
says I; "you might snatch a smoke first." I thought 
he meant it was time for him to go down to his work. 
When I understood what he was up to, my arms fell — 
so! Can't get a man like that every day, you know, 
sir; a regular devil for sailing a boat; ready to go out 
miles to sea to meet ships in any sort of weather. 
More than once a captain would come in here full of it 
and the first thing he would say would be, "That's a 
reckless sort of a lunatic you've got for water-clerk, 
Egstrom. I was feeling my way in at daylight under 
short canvas when there comes flying out of the mist 
right under my forefoot a boat half under water, 
sprays going over the masthead, two frightened nig- 
gers on the bottom boards, a yelling fiend at the tiller. 
Hey! hey! Ship ahoy! ahoy! Captain! Hey! hey! 
Egstrom & Blake's man first to speak to you! Hey! 
hey! Egstrom & Blake! HaUo! hey! whoop! Sack 
the niggers — out reefs — ^a squaU on at the time — shoots 
ahead whooping and yelling to me to make sail and he 
would give me a lead in — laaasJife^^^Pninnthnn n mnn: 
Never saw a boat handled like that in all my life. 


rniilHnj- liRVP h^n jiyTiV — ^was he? Such a quiet, 
soft-spoken chap, too — ^blushHEe a girl when he came on 
board. ..." I teU you, Captain Marlow, nobody 
had a chance against us with a strange ship when 
Jim was out. The other ship-chandlers just kept 
their old customers, and . . •' 

Egstr5m appeared overcome with emotion. 
Why, sir — ^it seemed as though he wouldn't 
mind going a hundred miles out to sea in an old shoe 
to nab a ship for the firm. If the business had been his 
own and all to make yet, he couldn't have done more in 
that way. And now ... all at once . . . 
like this! Thinks I to myself: ^'Oho! a rise in the screw 
— ^that's the trouble — ^is it? All right,^* says I, "no 
need of all that fuss with me, Jinuny. Just mention 
your figure. Anything in reason.** He looks at me as 
if he wanted to swallow something that stuck in his 
throat. "I can't stop with you." "What's that 
blooming joke?" I asks. He shakes his head, and I 
could see in his eye he was as good as gone already, sir. 
So I turned to Um and slanged him till all was blue. 
" What i s it you're run ningjtw fl.y fron^?" I asks. " Who 
Has Been gettmg at you? What scared you? You 
haven't as much sense as a rat; they don't clear out 
from a good ship. Where do you expect to get a better 
berth? — ^you this and you that." I made him look 
sick, I can tell you. "This business ain't going to 
sink," says I. He gave a big jump. "Good-bye," he 
says, nodding at me like a lord; "you ain't half a bad 
chap, EgstrSm. I give you my word that if you knew 
my reasons you wouldn't care to keep me." "That's 
the biggest lie you ever told in your life," says I; 
"I know my own mind." He made me so mad tiiat I 
had to laugh. "Can't you really stop long enough to 
drink this glass of beer here, you funny beggar, you?" 


I don't know what came over him; he didn't seem able to 
find the door; something comical, I can tell you, cap- 
tain. I drank the beer myself. "Well, if you're in 
such a hurry, here's luck to you in your own drink," 
says I; "only, you mark my words, if you keep up this 
game you'll very soon find that the earth ain't big 
enough to hold you — that's all." He gave me one 
black look, and out he rushed with a face fit to scare 
little children.' 

"EgstrOm snorted bitterly, and combed one auburn 
whisker with knotty fingers. * Haven't been able to 
get a man that was any good since. It's nothing but 
worry, worry, worry in business. And where might 
you have come across him, captain, if it's fair to ask? ' 

"*He was the mate of the Patna that voyage,' I 
said, feeling that I owed some explanation. For a 
time Egstr5m remained very still, with his fingers 
plunged in the hair at the side of his face, and then 
exploded. *And who the devil cares about that?' 
*I daresay no one,' I began . • . *And what the 
devil is he — anyhow — ^for to go on Uke this?' 
He stuffed suddenly his left whisker into his mouth and 
stood amazed. *Jee!' he exclaimed, *I told him the 
earth wouldn't be big enough to hold his caper.' " 


"I HAVE told you these two episodes at length to show 
his manner of dealing with himself under the new con- 
ditions of his life. There were many others of the sort, 
more than I could count on the fingers of my two hands. 
They were all equally tinged by a high-minded ab- 
surdity of intention which made their futility profound 
and touching. To fling away your daily bread so as to 
get your hands free for a grapple with a ghost may be an 
act of prosaic heroism. Men had done it before (though 
we who have lived know full well that it is not the 
haunted soul but the hungry body that makes an out- 
cast), and men who had eaten and meant to eat every 
day had applauded the creditable folly. He was indeed "^ 
unfortunate, for all his recklessness could not carry him 
out from under the shadow. There was always a 
doubt of his courage. The truth seems to be that it is 
impossible to lay the ghost of a fact. You can face it or 
shirk it — ^and I have come across a man or two who 
could wink at their familiar shades. Obviously Jim 
was not of the winking sort; but what I could never 
make up my mind about was whether his line of con- 
duct amounted to shirking his ghost or to facing him 

"I strained my mental eyesight only to discover that, 

as with the complexion of all our actions, the shade of 

difference was so delicate that it was impossible to say^^r-v 

/*'Tt might have been flight and it might have been a mode I 

I of comb ats To the common mind he became known as 

-^' a'nreilingstone, because this was the funniest part; he 


198 LORD 31M 

did after a time become perfectly known, and even 
notorious, within the circle of his wanderings (which 
had a diameter of, say, three thousand miles), in the 
same way as an eccentric character is known to a whole 
countryside. For instance, in Bangkok, where he found 
employment with Yucker Brothers, charterers and teak 
mgPj^ ^m^tj LJtwiu^ almost pathetic to see him go about 
m sunshine hugging his secret, which was known to the 
very up-coimtry logs on the river. fSchomberg, the 
l:e6per of the hotel whereTieT)oar3ed7a hirsute Alsatian 
of manly bearing and an irrepressible retailer of aU the 
scandalous gossip of the place, would, with both elbows 
on the table, impart an adorned version of the story to 
any guest who cared to imbibe knowledge along with 
the more costly liquors. ^And, mind you, the nicest 
fellow you could meet,* would be his generous con- 
clusion; 'quite superior.' It says a lot for the casual 
crowd that frequented Schomberg's establishment that 
Jim managed to hang out in Bangkok for a whole six 
months. I remarked that people, perfect strangers, 
took to him as one takes to a nice child. His manner 
was reserved, but it was as though his personal appear- 
ance, his hair, his eyes, his smile, made friends for him 
wherever he went. And, of course, he was no fool. I 
heard Siegmund Yucker (native of Switzerland), a 
gentle creature ravaged by a cruel dyspepsia, and so 
frightfully lame that his head swung through a quarter 
of a circle at every step he took, declare appreciatively 
that for one so young he was *of great gabasidy,* as 
though it had been a mere question of cubic contents. 
'Why not send him up country?* I suggested anxiously. 
(Yucker Brothers had concessions and teak forests in the 
interior.) *If he has capacity, as you say, he will soon 
get hold of the work. And physically he is very fit. 
His health is always exceUent.* *Ach! It*s a great 


ting in dis goundry to be vree vrom tispep-shia/ sighed 
poor Yucker enviously, casting a stealthy glance at the 
pit of his ruined stomach. I left him dnunming pen- 
sively on his desk and muttering, ^Es ist ein idee. Es 
ist ein idee/ Unfortunately, that very evening an un- 
pleasant affair took place in the hotel. 

"I don't know that I blame Jim very much, but it was 
a truly regrettable incident. It belonged to the lam- 
entable species of bar-room scuffles, and the other 
party to it was a cross-eyed Dane of sorts whose visit- 
ing card recited under his misbegotten name: first 
Heutenant in the Royal Siamese Navy. The fellow, of 
course, was utterly hopeless at billiards, but did not 
Uke to be beaten, I suppose. He had had enough to 
drink to turn nasty after the sixth game, and make some 
scornful remark at Jim's expense. Most of the people 
there didn't hear what was said, and those who had 
heard seemed to have had all precise recollection scared 
out of them by the appalling nature of the consequences 
that immediately ensued. It was very lucky for the 
Dane that he could swim, because the room opened on a 
verandah and the Menam flowed below very wide and 
black. A boat-load of Chinamen, bound, as likely as 
not, on some thieving expedition, fished out the officer 
of the King of Siam, and Jim turned up at about mid- 
night on board my ship without a hat. * Everybody in 
the room seemed to know,' he said, gasping yet from the 
contest, as it were. He was rather sorry, on general 
principles, for what had happened, though in this case 
there had been, he said, *no option.' But what dis- 
mayed him was to find the nature of his burden as well 
known to everybody as though he had gone about all 
that time carrying it on his shoulders. ^.Nftturally after 
this he couldn't remain in the placew, 'He was univer-"^ - . ^ 
sally condemned for the brutal violence, so unbecoming 


7 a man in his delicate position; some maintained he had 
^5een disgracefully drunk at the time; others criticised 
his want of tact. Even Schomberg was very much 
annoyed. *He is a very nice young man/ he said, 
argumentatively, to me, *but the Heutenant is a first- 
rate fellow, too. He dines every night at my table 
d'hdtey you know. And there's a billiard-cue broken. 
I can't allow that. First thing this morning I went over 
with my apologies to the heutenant, and I think I've 
made it all right for myself; but only think, captain, if 
everybody started such games! Why, the man might 
have been drowned! And here I can't run out into the 
next street and buy a new cue. I've got to write to 
Europe for them. No, no! A temper like that won't 
do!' . . . He was extremely sore on the subject. 
"This was the worst incident of all in his — ^his re- 
treat. Nobody could deplore it more than myself; for 
if, as somebody said hearing him mentioned, 'Oh, yes! 
I know. He has knocked about a good deal out here,' 
yet he had somehow avoided being battered and chipped 
in the process. This last affair, however, made me 
seriously uneasy, because if his exquisite sensibihties 
were to go the length of involving him in pot-house 
shindies, he would lose his name of an inoffensive, if 
aggravating, fool, and acquire that of a common loafer. 
For all my confidence in him I could not help reflecting 
that in such cases from the name to the thing itself is 
but a step. I suppose you will understand that by that 
time I could not think of washing my hands of him. I 
took him away from Bangkok in my ship, and we had a 
longish passage. It was pitiful to see how he shrank 
within himself. A seaman, even if a mere passenger, 
takes an interest in a ship, and looks at the sea-life 
around him with the critical enjoyment of a painter, for 
instance, looking at another man's work. In every 



sense of the expression he is * on deck' ; but my Jim, for 
the most part, skulked down below as though he had 
been a stowaway. He infected me so that I avoided 
speaking on professional matters, such as would suggest 
themselves naturally to two sailors during a passage. 
For whole days we did not exchange a word; I felt 
extremely imwilling to give orders to my oflGicers in his 
presence. Often, when alone with him on deck or in 
the cabin, we didn't know what to do with our eyes. 

''I placed him with De Jongh, as you know, glad 
enough to dispose of him in any way, yet persuaded 
that his position was now growing intolerable. He had 
lost some of that elasticity which had enabled him to re- 
bound back into his imcompromising position after 
every overthrow. One day, coming ashore, I saw him 
standing on the quay; the water of the roadstead and 
the sea in the offing made one smooth ascending plane, 
and the outermost ships at anchor seemed to ride 
motionless in the sky. He was waiting for his boat, 
which was being loaded at our feet with packages of 
small stores for some vessel ready to leave. After 
eKchanging greetings, we remained silent — ^side by side. 
*Jove!' he said, suddenly, *this is killing work.' 

"He smiled at me; I must say he generally could 
manage a smile. I made no reply. I knew very well 
he was not alluding to his duties; he had an easy time 
of it with De Jongh. Nevertheless, as soon as he had 
spoken I became completely convinced that the work 
was killing. I did not even look at him. * Would you 
like,' said I, *to leave this part of the world altogether; 
try California or the West Coast? I'll see what I can 
do . . .' He interrupted me a little scornfully. 
*What difference would it make?' ... I felt at 
once convinced that he was right. It would make no 
difference; it was not relief he wanted; I seemed to per- 


ceive dimly that what he wanted, what he was, as it 
were, waiting for, was something not easy to define — 
something in the nature of an opportunity. I had given 
him many opportunities, but they had been merely 
opportunities to earn his bread. Yet what more could 
any man do? The position struck me as hopeless, 
and poor Brieriy's saying recurred to me, 'Let him creep 
twenty feet underground and stay there.' Better that, 
I thou^t, than this waiting above ground for the im- 
possible. Yet one could not be sure even of that. 
There and then, before his boat was three oars' lengths 
away from the quay, I had made up my mind to go and 
consult St^kthi the evening. 

'^Thi^^&te^was a wealthy and respected merchant. 
His 'house^ (because it was a house. Stein & Co., and 
there was some sort of partner who, as Stein said, 
'looked after the Moluccas') had a large inter-island 
business, with a lot of trading posts established in the 
most out-of-the-way places for collecting the produce. 
His wealth and his respectability were not exactly the 
reasons why I was anxious to seek his advice. I desired 
to confide my difficulty to him because he was one of 
the most trustworthy men I had ever known. The 
gentle light of a simple imwearied, as it were, and in- 
telligent good-nature illumined his long hairless face. 
It had deep downward folds, and was pale as of a man 
who had always led a sedentary life — which was in- 
deed very far from being the case. His hair was thin, 
and brushed back from a massive and lofty forehead. 
One fancied that at twenty he must have looked very 
much like what he was now at threescore. It was a 
student's face; only the eyebrows nearly all white, thick 
and bushy, together with the resolute searching glance 
that came from under them, were not in accord with 
his, I may say, learned appearance. He was tall 

«I-.J'>.'. r 


and loose- jointed; his slight stoop, together with an 
innocent smile, made him appear benevolently ready to 
lend you his ear; his long arms with pale big hands had 
rare deliberate gestures of a pointing out, demonstrating 
kind. I speak of him at length, because imder this 
exterior, and in conjunction with an upright and in- 
dulgent nature, ^^s man possessed an intrepidity bF" 
^''spiHl and a physical courage that could have been called 
reckless had it not been like a natural function of the 
body— say good digestion, for Jssta^ic^r^^ 
unconscious of itself. ■'It is sometimes said of a man K 
^at lie carries his life m his hand. Such a saying would 
have been inadequate if applied to him; during the early 
part of his existence in the East he had been playing 
ball with it. All this was in the past, but I knew the 
story of his life and the origin of his fortime. He was 
also a naturalist of som e distinc tion, or perhaps I 
should say a learneJ collector. Entomology was his 
special study. His collection of Buprestidce and Longi- 
corns — beetles all — ^horrible miniature monsters, look- 
ing malevolent in death' aifdTmmobility, and his cabinet 
of butterflies, beautiful and hovering under the glass of 
cases on lifeless wings, had spread his fame far over the 
earth. The name of this merchant, adventurer, some- 
time adviser of a Malay sultan (to whom he never 
alluded otherwise than as ^my poor Mohammed 
Bonso'), had, on account of a few bushels of dead in- 
sects, become known to learned persons in Europe, who 
could have had no conception, and certainly would not 
have cared to know anything, of his life or character. 
I, who knew, considered him an eminently suitable 
person to receive my confidences about Jim's difficulties 
as well as my own." 


"Late in the evening I entered his study, after 
traversing an imposing but empty dining-room very 
dimly lit. The house was silent. I was preceded by 
an elderly grim Javanese servant in a sort of livery of 
white jacket and yellow sarong, who, after throwing 
the door open, exclaimed low, *0 master!' and stepping 
aside, vanished in a mysterious way as though he had 
been a ghost only momentarily embodied for that 
particular service. Stein turned round with the chair, 
and in the same movement his spectacles seemed to get 
pushed up on his forehead. He welcomed me in his 
quiet and humorous voice. Only one comer of the vast 
room, the comer in which stood his writing-desk, was 
strongly lighted by a shaded reading-lamp, and the rest 
of the spacious apartment melted into shapeless gloom 
like a cavern. Narrow shelves filled with dark boxes 
of uniform shape and colour ran roimd the walls, not 
from floor to ceiling, but in a sombre belt about four 
feet broad. Catacombs of beetles. Wooden tablets 
were hung above at irregular intervals. The light 
reached one of them, and the word Coleoptera written in 
gold letters glittered mysteriously upon a vast dimness. 
The glass cases containing the collection of butterflies 
were ranged in three long rows upon slender-legged 
little tables. One of these cases had been removed 
from its place and stood on the desk, which was be- 
strewn with oblong slips of paper blackened with 
minute handwriting. 

"*So you see me — so,' he said. His hand hovered 



over the case where a butterfly in solitary grandeur 
spread out dark bronze wings, seven inches or more 
across, with exquisite white veinings and a gorgeous 
border of yellow spots. *Only one specimen like this 
they have in your London, and then — ^no more. To 
my small native town this my collection I shall be- 
queath. Something of me. The best.' 

"He bent forward in the chair and gazed intently, 
his chin over the front of the case. I stood at his back. 
* Marvellous,' he whispered, and seemed to forget my 
presence. His history was curious. He had been bom 
in Bavaria, and when a youth of twenty-two had taken 
an active part in the revolutionary movement of 1848. 
Heavily compromised, he managed to make his escape, 
and at first found a refuge with a poor republican watch- 
maker in Trieste. From there he made his way to 
TripoK with a stock of cheap watches to hawk about, — 
not a very great opening truly, but it turned out lucky 
enough, because it was there he came upon a Dutch 
traveller — a rather famous man, I believe, but I don't 
remember his name. It was that naturalist who, 
engaging him as a sort of assistant, took him to the 
East. They travelled in the Archipelago together and 
separately, collecting insects and birds, for four years or 
more. Then the naturalist went home, and Stein, 
having no home to go to, remained with an old trader 
he had come across in his journeys in the interior of 
Celebes — if Celebes may be said to have an interior. 
This old Scotsman, the only white man allowed to re- 
side in the country at the time, was a privileged friend of 
the chief ruler of Wajo States, who was a woman. I 
often heard Stein relate how that chap, who was 
slightly paralysed on one side, had introduced him to 
the native court a short time before another stroke 
carried him off. He was a heavy man with a patriarchal 


white beard, and of imposing stature. He came into the 
coimcil-hall where all the rajahs, pangerans, and head- 
men were assembled, with the queen, a fat wrinkled 
woman (very free in her speech. Stein said), reclining 
on a high couch under a canopy. He dragged his leg, 
thumping with his stick, and grasped Stein's arm, lead- 
ing him right up to the couch. *Look, queen, and you 
rajahs, this is my son,' he proclaimed in a stentorian 
voice. *I have traded with yoiu* fathers, and when I 
die he shall trade with you and your sons/ 

"By means of this simple formality Stein inherited 
the Scotsman's privileged position and all his stock-in- 
trade, together with a fortified house on the banks of the 
only navigable river in the country. Shortly afterwards 
"" tEe"lC)ld queen, who was so free in her speech, died, and 
the country became distiu-bed by various pretenders 
1 to the throne. Stein joined the party of a younger son, 
i^^ the one of whom thirty years later he never spoke other- 
wise but as *my poor Mohammed Bonso.' They both 
became the heroes of innumerable exploits; they had 
wonderful adventures, and once stood a siege in the 
Scotsman's house for a month, with only a score of 
followers against a whole army. I believe the natives 
talk of that war to this day. Meantime, it seems. Stein 
never failed to annex on his own account every butter- 
fly or beetle he could lay hands on. After some eight 
years of war, negotiations, false truces, sudden out- 
breaks, reconciliation, treachery, and so on, and just as 
peace seemed at last permanently established, his *poor 
Mohammed Bonso' was assassinated at the gate of his 
own royal residence while dismounting in the highest 
spirits on his return from a successful deer-hunt. This 
event rendered Stein's position extremely insecure, but 
he would have stayed perhaps had it not been that a 
short time afterwards he lost Mohammed's sister ('my 


dear wife the princess/ he used to say solemnly), by 
whom he had had a daughter — smother and child both 
dying within three days of each other from some in- 
fectious fever. He left the country, which this cruel 
loss had made unbearable to him. Thus ended the 
first and adventurous part of his existence. What 
followed was so diflferent that, but for the reality of 
sorrow which remained with him, this strange part 
must have resembled a dream. He had a little money; 
he started life afresh, and in the course of years acquired 
a considerable fortune. At first he had travelled a good 
deal amongst the islands, but age had stolen upon him, 
and of late he seldom left his spacious house three miles 
out of town, with an extensive garden, and surrounded 
by stables, offices, and bamboo cottages for his servants 
and dependants, of whom he had many. He drove in 
his bu^ every morning to town, where he had an 
office with white and Chinese clerks. He owned a small 
fleet of schooners and native craft, and dealt in island 
produce on a large scale. For the rest he lived solitary, 
but not misanthropic, with his books and his collection, 
classing and arranging specimens, corresponding with 
entomologists in Europe, writing up a descriptive 
catalogue of his treasiu*es. Such IvaS the hisfory of the 
mail whom I had come to consult upon Jim's case with- 
out any definite hope. Simply to hear what he woidd 
have to say would have been a relief. I was very 
anxious, but I respected the intense, almost passionate, 
absorption with which he looked at a butterfly, as 
though on the bronze sheen of these frail wings, in the 
white tracings, in the gorgeous markings, he could see 
other things, an image of something as perishable and 
defying destruction as these delicate and lifeless tissues 
displaying a splendour immarred by death. 

Marvellous!' he repeated, looking up at me. 



*Look! The beauty — but that is nothing — ^look at 
the accuracy^ the harmony. And so fragile! And so 
strong ! And so exact ! TTbis is Nature — ^the balance of 
colossal forces. Every star is so — ^and every blade of 
grass stands so — and the mighty Kosmos in perfect 
equilibrium produces — this. This wonder; this master- 
JgCfi^liLJiJature — the great artist.* 

"* Never hearff an entomologist go on li ke this ,ll ob- ' 
erved, cheerfully. ^Masterpiece! Aiid^KiJcrfman?* i 

"*Man is amazing, but he is not a masterpiece^!^ he 
said, keeping his eyes &ted on the glass cai^e. ^Perhaps 
i _tibeartist was a little mad. Eh? What do you think? 

< / Sometimes it seems to me that man is cqmfj jsdis^e^ is 

not wantftdjuwhere thgi^ for him; for if not, 

why sho^ldJiP wni\ff^\J^ j^ace? Why shouldtce run 
about here and theremaking a great noise about him- 
self, talking about the stars, distiu*bing the blades of 
grass? . . .' 
-^"Catching butterflies,' I chimed in. 

"He smiled, threw himself back in his chair, and 
stretched his legs. *Sit down,' he said. *I captured 
this rare specimen myself one very fine morning. And 
I had a very big emotion. You don't know what it is 
for a collector to capture such a rare specimen. You 
can't know.' 

"I smiled at my ease in a rocking-chair. His eyes 
seemed to look far beyond the wall at which they stared; 
and he narrated how, one night, a messenger arrived 
from his *poor Mohammed,' requiring his presence at 
the * residenz' — as he called it — which was distant some 
nine or ten miles by a bridle-path over a cultivated 
plain, with patches of forest here and there. Early in 
the morning he started from his fortified house, after 
embracing his little Emma, and leaving the * princess,' 
yhis wife, in command. He described how she came with 



him as far as the gate, walking with one hand on the 
neck of his horse; she had on a white jacket, gold pins 
in her hair, and a brown leather belt over her left 
shoulder with a revolver in it. *She talked as women 
will talk,' he said, Helling me to be careful, and to try to 
get back before dark, and what a great wickedness it 
was for me to go alone. We were at war, and the 
country was not safe; my men were putting up bullet- 
proof shutters to the house and loading their rifles, and 
she begged me to have no fear for her. She could de- 
fend the house against anybody till I returned. And I « 
laughed with pleasure a little. I liked to see her so 
brave and young and strong. I, too, was young then. 
At the gate she caught hold of my hand and gave it one 
squeeze and fell back. I made my horse stand still out- 
side till I heard the bars of the gate put up behind me. 
There was a great enemy of mine, a great noble — and a 
great rascal, too — ^roaming with a band in the neighbour- 
hood. I cantered for four or five miles; there had been 
rain in the night, but the mists had gone up, up — and 
the face of the earth was clean ; it lay smiling to me, so 
fresh and innocent — ^like a little child. Suddenly some- 
body fires a volley — twenty shots at least it seemed to 
me. I hear bullets sing in my ear, and my hat jumps 
to the back of my head. It was a little intrigue, you 
understand. They got my poor Mohammed to send for 
me and then laid tiiat ambush. I see it all in a minute, 

and I think This wants a little management. 

My pony snort, jump, and stand, and I fall slowly for- 
ward with my head on his mane. He begins to walk, 
and with one eye I could see over his neck a faint cloud 
of smoke hanging in front of a clump of bamboos to my 

left. I think Aha! my friends, why you not 

wait long enough before you shoot? This is not yet 
gelungen. Oh, no ! I get hold of my revolver with my 


right hand — quiet — quiet. After all, there were only 
seven of these rascals. They get up from the grass and 
start running with their sarongs tucked up, waving 
spears above their heads, and yelling to each other to 
look out and catch the horse, because I was dead. I 
let them come as close as the door here, and then bang, 
bang, bang — ^take aim each time, too. One more shot I 
fire at a man's back, but I miss. Too far already. And 
then I sit alone on my horse with the clean earth smiling 
at me, and there are the bodies of three men lying on the 
groimd. One was curled up like a dog, another on his 
back had an arm over his eyes as if to keep off the sun, 
and the third man he draws up his leg very slowly and 
makes it with one kick straight again. I watch him 
very carefully from my horse, but there is no more — 
bleibt ganz ruhiff — ^keep still, *so. And as I looked at his 
face for some sign of life I observed something like a 
faint shadow pass over his forehead. It was the shadow 
of this butterfly. Look at the form of the wing. This 
species fly high with a strong flight. I raised my eyes 

and I saw him fluttering away. I think Can it 

be possible? And then I lost him. I dismoimted and 
went on very slow, leading my horse and holding my 
revolver with one hand and my eyes darting up and 
down and right and left, everywhere! At last I saw 
him sitting on a small heap of dirt ten feet away. At 
once my heart began to beat quick. I let go my horse, 
keep my revolver in one hand, and with the other snatch 
my soft felt hat off my head. One step. Steady. Another 
step. Flop ! I got him ! When I got up I shook like a 
leaf with excitenent, and when I opened these beautiful 
wings and made sure what a rare and so extraordinary 
perfect specimen I had, my head went roimd and my 
legs became so weak with emotion that I had to sit on 
the ground. I had greatly desired to possess myself 


of a specimen of that species when collecting for the 
professor. I took long journeys and underwent great 
privations; I had dreamed of him in my sleep, and here 
suddenly I had him in my fingers — ^f or myself ! In the 
words of the poet' (he pronoimced it 'boet') — 

So halt' ich's endlich denn in meinen Hlliideny 
Und nenn' es in gewissem Sinne mein." ' 

He gave to the last word the emphasis of a suddenly 
lowered voice, and withdrew his eyes slowly from my 
face. He began to charge a long-stemmed pipe busily 
and in silence, then, pausing with his thumb on the 
orifice of the bowl, looked again at me significantly. 

"*Yes, my good friend. On that day I had nothing 
to desire; I had greatly annoyed my principal enemy; 
I was young, strong; I had friendship; I had the love' 
(he said *lof') *of woman, a child I had, to make my 
heart very f idl — ^and even what I had once dreamed in 
my sleep had come into my hand, too ! ' 

"He struck a match, which flared violently. His 
thoughtful placid face twitched once. 

"* Friend, wife, child,' he said, slowly, gazing at the 
small flame — *phoo!' The match was blown out. He 
sighed and turned again to the glass case. The frail and 
beautiful wings quivered faintly, as if his breath had for 
an instant called back to life that gorgeous object of his 

""Til A work,' h^ b^an, suddenly, pointing to the 
scattered s lips, and in his usual gentle and cheery tone, 
jTogress. I have been this rare speci- 
men describing. • . . "^Na! And what is your good 

"'To tell you the truth. Stein,' I said with an eflfort 
that surprised me, 'I came here to describe a speci- 

_^ ^" 


"* Butterfly?' he asked, with an unbelievmg and 
humorous eagerness. 

"'Nothing so perfect/ I answered, feeUng suddenly 
dispirited with all sorts of doubts. ^A man!' 

'''Ach so?' he murmured, and his smiling counte- 
nance, turned to me, became grave. Then after look- 
ing at me for a while he said slowly, * Well — ^I am a man, 

"Here you have him as he was; he knew how to be so 
generously encouraging as to make a scrupulous man 
hesitate on the brink of confidence; but if I did hesitate 
it was not for long. 

"He heard me out, sitting with crossed l^s. Some- 
times his head would disappear completely in a great 
eruption of smoke, and a sympathetic growl would 
come out from the cloud. When I finished he uncrossed 
his legs, laid down his pipe, leaned forward towards me 
earnestly with his elbows on the arms of his chair, the 
tips of his fingers together. ~ ' \ ....--«"*^^ 

"*I understand very well. I He is romantic' 

"He had diagnosed the cksctcfr-fB^nxiA at first I 
was quite startled to find how simple it was; and indeed 
our conference resembled so much a medical consulta- 
tion — Stein, of learned aspect, sitting in an arm-chair 
before his desk; I, anxious, in another, facing him, but 
a little to one side — ^that it seemed natural to ask — 

_^*He lifted up a long forefinger. 
^ " ^TKere is only one remedy! On,e thing alone can us 
Jrom being ourselves cure ! ' The finger came down on 
the desk with a smart rap. The case which he had made 
to look so simple before became if possible still simpler — 
and altogether hopeless. There was a pause. *Yes,' 
said I, * strictly speaking, the question is not how to get 
cured, but how to live.' 


"He approved with his head, a little sadly as it 
seemed. ^Jal jal In general, adapting the words of 
your great poet: That is the question. . . / He 
went on nodding sympathetically. . . . *How to 
be ! Achl How to be.' 

"He stood up with the tips of his fingers resting on 
the desk. 

" * We want in so many different ways to be/ he began 
again. *This magnificent butterfly finds a little heap 
of dirt and sits still on it; but man he will never on his 
heap of mud keep still. He want to be so, and again 
he want to be so. . . .' He moved his hand up, 
then down. . . . *He wants to be a saint, and he 
wants to be a devil — and every time he shuts his eyes he 
sees himself as a very fine fellow — so fine as he can 
never be. . . . Jn^a ch-eam. .;..'" 

"He lowered the glass lid, the automatic lock clicked 
sharply, and taking up the case in both hands he bore 
it religiously away to its place, passing out of the bright 
circle of the lamp into the ring of fainter light — ^into 
shapeless dusk at last. It had an odd effect — as if 
these few steps had carried him out of this concrete and 
perplexed world. His tall form, as though robbed of its 
substance, hovered noiselessly over invisible things with 
stooping and indefinite movements; his voice, heard in 
that remoteness where he could be glimpsed mysteri- 
ously busy with immaterial cares, was no longer incisive, 
seemed to roll voluminous and grave— mellowed by 

"*And because you not always can keep your eyes 
shut there comes tie real trouble — ^the heart pain — ^the 
world pain. I tell you, my friend, it is not good for-you 
to find you cannot make your dream come true, for the 
reason that you not strong enough are, or not clever, 
enough. Jal . . . And all the time you are such 





a fine feOow, too! Wief Waaf Gott in HimmeU 
How can that be? Ha! ha! ha!' 

'^The shadow prowling amongst the graves of butter- 
flies laughed boisterously. 
^ "*Yes! Very funny this terrible thing is. ' A man 
that is bom falb int o a dream E ke a man who falls into 
the sea. If he tries to dimb out into the air as in- 
experienced people endeavour to do, he drowns — nichi 
wahtf . . . No! I tell you! The way is to the 
destructive element submit yourself, pnd ip^UlK 
exertions of your hands and feet in the water make the 
deep, deep sea keep you up. So if you ask me — how to 

^^His voice leaped up extraordinarfly strong, as 
though away there in the dusk he had been inspired 
by some whisper of knowledge. 'I will tell you! For 
that, too, there is only one way.' 

'^With a hasty swish swish of his slippers he loomed 
up in the ring of faint light, and suddenly appeared in 
the bright circle of the lamp. His extended hand aimed 
at my breast like a pistol; his deep-set eyes seemed to 
pierce through me, but his twitching lips uttered no 
word, and the austere exaltation of a certitude seen in 
the dusk vanished from his face. The hand that had 
been pointing at my breast fell, and by-and-by, coming 
a step nearer, he laid it gently on my shoulder. There 
were things, he said mournfully, that perhaps could 
never be told, only he had lived so much alone that 
sometimes he forgot — ^he forgot. The light had de- 
stroyed the assurance which had inspired him in the 
distant shadows. He sat down and, with both elbows 
on the desk, rubbed his forehead. * And yet it is true — 
it is true. In the destructive element immerse.' . . _^ 
He spoke in a subdued tone, without looking at me, one 
hand on each side of his face. * That was the way. To 


J T 

/ LORD JIM 215 


J6II0W the dream, and again to follow the dream — ^and 
/so — etoig — tisque ad finem. . . / The whisper of 
his conviction seemed to open before me a vast and 
imcertain expanse, as of a crepuscular horizon on a 
"^ plain at dawn — or was it, perchance, at the coming of 
the night? One had not the courage to decide; but it 
was a charming and deceptive light, throwing the 
impalpable poesy of its dimness over pitfalls — over 
graves. His life had begun in sacrifice, hi enthusiasm 
for generous ideas; he had trave]le3"very far, on various 
ways, on strange paths, and whatever he followed it 
had been without faltering, and therefore without 
shame and without regret. In so far he was right. 
That was the way, no doubt. Yet for all that the great 
plain on which men wander amongst graves and pit- 
falls remained very desolate under the impalpable poesy 
of its crepuscular light, overshadowed in the centre, 
circled with a bright edge as if siurounded by an abyss 
full of flames. /When at last I broke the silence it was 
-^ express the opinion that no one could be more ro- 
mantic than himself. 

''^^He shook his head slowly, and afterwaixls looked 
at me with a patient and inquiring glance. It was a 
shame, he said. There we were sitting and talking like 
two boys, instead of putting our heads together to 
find something practical — ^a practical remedy — ^for the 
evil — ^for the great evil — ^he repeated, with a humorous 
and indulgent smile. For all that, our talk did not grow 
more practical. We avoided pronouncing Jim's name 
as though we had tried to keep flesh and blood out of our 
discussion, or he were nothing but an erring i^»rity-» 
suffering and nameless shade. ^Na!' said Stein, rising. 
^oHoight you sleep here, and in the morning we shall do 
something practical — practical. . . .* He lit a two- 
branched candlestick and led the way. We passed 

y - 


through empty dark rooms, escorted by gleams from 
the lights Stein carried. They glided along the waxed 
floors, sweeping here and there over the polished surface 
of the table, leaped upon a fragmentary curve of a piece 
of furniture, or flashed perpendicularly in and out of 
distant mirrors, while the forms of two men and the 
flicker of two flames could be seen for a moment stealing 
silently across the depths of a crystalline void. He 
walked slowly a pace in advance with stooping courtesy; 
there was a profoimd, as it were a listening, quietude on 
his face; the long flaxen locks mixed with white threads 
were scattered thinly upon his slightly bowed neck. 

"*He is romantic — romantic,' he repeated. *And 
that is very bad — very bad. . . . Very good, too,* 
he added. 'But is hef* I queried. 

'^'GewisSy he said, and stood still holding up the 
candelabrum, but without looking at me. ^Evident! 
What is it that by inward pain makes him know him- 
self? What is it that for you and me makes him — exist? ' 

"At that moment it was difficult to beUeve in Jim's 
existence — starting from a country parsonage, blurred 
by crowds of men as by clouds of dust, silenced by the 
clashing claims of life and death in a material world — 
but his imperishable reality came to me with a con- 
vincing, with an irresistible force! I saw it vividly, as 
though in our progress through the lofty silent rooms 
amongst fleeting gleams of light and the sudden revela- 
tions of human figures stealing with ffickering flames 
within unfathomable and pellucid depths, we had 
approached nearer to absolute Truth, which, like 
Beauty itself, floats elusive, obscure, half submerged, in 
the silent still waters of mystery. 'Perhaps he is,' I 
admitted with a slight laugh, whose imexpectedly loud 
reverberation made me lower my voice directly; *but 
I am sure you are.' With his head dropping on his 


breast and the light held high he began to walk again. 
*Well — I exist, too/ he said. 

" He preceded me. My eyes followed his movements, 
but what I did see was not the head of the firm, the 
welcome guest at afternoon receptions, the corres- 
pondent of learned societies, the entertainer of stray 
naturalists; I saw only the reality of his destiny, which 
he had known how to follow with unfaltering footsteps, 
that life begun m humble surroundings, rich m generous 
enthusiasms, in friendship, love, war — ^in all the exalted 
elements of romance. At the door of my room he faced 
me. ^Yes,' I said, as though carrying on a discussion, 
*and amongst other things you dreamed foolishly of ST 
certain butterfly; but when one fine morning your 
dream came in your way you did not let the splendid .• 
opportunity escape. Did you? Whereas he . "T^.!^ 
Stein lifted his hand. *And do you know how many 
opportunities I let escape; how many dreams I hs^^loat — 
that had come in my way?' He shook his head re- 
gretfully. *It seems to me that some would have been / 
very fine — ^if I had made them come true. Do you know 
how many? Perhaps I myself don't know.' * Whether 
his were fine or not,' I said, * he knows of one which he 
certainly did not catch.' * Everybody knows of one or 
two like that,' said Stein; *and tJiat is the trouble — the 
great trouble. . . .' 

"He shook hands on the threshold, peered into my 
room under his raised arm. * Sleep well. And to- 
morrow we must do something practical — ^practi- 
cai. ... 

"Though his own room was beyond mine I saw him 
return the way he came. He was going back to his 


\Li y (<-<Lx/^v/ :: hc-^^^ ( 

u . ' 


^ '^r^xJN'T suppose any of you had ever heard of 
Patuaan?'' Mariow resumed, after a siloice oocufned 
in the careful lighting of a cigar. ''It does not matter; 
there's many a heavenly body in the lot crowding upon 

us of a nidi t that . TnAnlgpfl \^sul n^jrpr ht^f ^ nl, ft being 

outside the sphere of its activibes and of no earthly 
importance to anybody but to the astronomers who are 
paid to talk learnedly about its oomixnition, wei^t, 
path — ^the irr^ularities of its conduct, the aberraticms 
of its light — a sort of scientific scandal-mongering. 
Thus with Patiyail* It was referred to knowingly in 
the inner government circles in Batavia, espedaDy as to 
its irregularities and aberrations, and it was known by 
name to some few, very few, in the mercantile world. 
Nobody, however, had been there, and I suspect no one 
desired to go there in person, just as an astronomer, I 
should fancy, would strongly object to being trans- 
ported into a distant heavenly body, where, parted 
from his earthly emoluments, he would be bewildered 
by the view of an unfamiliar heavens. However, 
neither heavenly bodies nor astronomers have anything 
to do with Patusan. It was Jim who went there. I 
only meant you to imderstand that had Stein arranged 
to send him into a star of the fifth magnitude the change 
could not have been greater. He left his earthly failings 
behind him and that sort of reputation he had, and there 
was a totally new set of conditions for his imaginative 
faculty to work upon. Entirely new, entirely remark- 
able. And he got hold of them in a remarkable way. 



''Stein was the man who knew more about Fatusan 
than anybody else. More than was known in the 
government circles I suspect. I have no doubt he had 
been there, either in his butterfly-hunting days or later 
on, when he tried in his incorrigible way to season with a 
pinch of romance the fattening dishes of his commercial 
kitchen. There were very few places in the Archipelago 
he had not seen in the original dusk of their being, before 
Ught (and even electric light) had been carried into them 
for the sake of better morality and — and — ^well — the 
greater profit, too. It was at breakfast of the morning 
following our talk about Jim that he mentioned the 
place, after I had quoted poor Brierly's remark: *Let 
him creep twenty feet underground and stay there.* 
He looked up at me with interested attention, as though 
I had been a rare insect. 'This could be done, too,' he 
remarked, sipping his coffee. 'Bury him in some sort,' 
I explained. 'One doesn't like to do it of course, but 
it would be the best thing, seeing what he is.* 'Yes; he ; 
is yoimg,* Stein mused. 'The vonnpest human hMng",^^ 
jiow in existence^M affirmed. ^Sclion. There's Patusan,' 
ne went on m the same tone. . . . And the woman 
is dead now,' he added incomprehensibly. 

"Of course I don't know that story; I can only guess 
that once before Fatusan had been used as a grave 
for some sin, transgression, or misfortune. It is im- 
possible to suspect Stein. The only woman that had 
ever existed for him was the Malay girl he called 'My 
wife the princess,' or, more rarely in moments of 
expansion, 'the mother of my Emma.' Who was the 
woman he had mentioned in connection with Fatusan 
I can't say; but from his allusions I understand she had 
been an educated and very good-looking Dutch-Malay 
girl, with a tragic or perhaps only a pitiful history, 
whose most painful part no doubt was her marriage with 


a Malacca Portuguese who had been clerk in some 
commercial house in the Dutch colonies. I gathered 
from Stein that this man was an unsatisfactory person 
in more ways than one, all being more or less indefinite 
and offensive. It was solely for his wife's sake that 
Stein had appomted him manager of Stein & Co.'s 
trading post in Fatusan; but commercially the arrange- 
ment was not a success, at any rate for the firm, and now 
the woman had died, Stein was disposed to try another 
agent there. The Portuguese, whose name was Cot- 
nelius, considered himself a very deserving but ill-used 
person, entitled by his abilities to a better position. 
This man Jim would have to relieve. *But I don't 
think he will go away from the place,' remarked Stein. 
*That has nothing to do with me. It was only for the 
sake of the woman that I . . . But as I think there 
is a daughter left, I shall let him, if he likes to stay, keep 
the old house.' 

"Patusan is a remote district of a native-ruled State, 
and the chief settlement bears the same name. At a 
point on the river about forty miles from the sea, where 
the first houses come into view, there can be seen 
rising above the level of the forests the summits of two 
steep hills very close together, and separated by what 
looks like a deep fissure, the cleavage of some mighty 
stroke. As a matter of fact, the valley between is 
nothing but a narrow ravine; the appearance from the 
settlement is of one irregularly conical hill split in two, 
and with the two halves leaning slightly apart. On the 
third day after the full, the moon, as seen from the open 
space in front of Jim's house (he had a very fine house 
in the native style when I visited him), rose exactly 
behind these hills, its diffused light at first throwing the 
two masses into intensely black relief, and then the 
nearly perfect disc, glowing ruddily, appeared, gliding 


upwards between the sides of the chasm, till it jBoated 
away above the summits, as if escaping from a yawning 
grave in gentle triumph. * Wonderful eflFect/ said Jim 
by my side. * Worth seeing. Is it not?* 

^^And this question was put with a note of personal 
pride that made me smile, as though he had had a hand 
in regulating that unique spectacle. He had regulated 
so many things in Fatusan! Things that would have 
appeared as much beyond his control as the motions of 
the moon and the stars. 

"It was inconceivable. That was the distinctive 
quality of the part into which Stein and I had tumbled 
him unwittingly, with no other notion than to get him 
out of the way; out of his own way, be it understood. 
That was our main purpose, though, I own, I might 
have had another motive which had influenced me a 
little. I was about to go home for a time; and it may be 
I desired, more than I was aware of myself, to dispose of 
him — to dispose of him, you imderstand — ^before I left. 
I was going home, and he had come to me from there, 
with his miserable trouble and his shadowy claim, 
like a man panting under a burden in a mist. I cannot 
say I had ever seen him distinctly — ^not even to this day, 
after I had my last view of him ; but it seemed to me that 
the less I understood the more I was bound to him in the 

^ ji^me oTthat^ubt which is the insepaTahle pfl.rt. nl.Qiir 

' kno wledge* I did not know so much more about my- 
self. And then, I repeat, I was going home — ^to that 
home distant enough for all its hearthstones to be like 
one hearthstone, by which the humblest of us has the 
right to sit. We wander in our thousands over the face 
of the earth, the illustrious and the obscure, earning 
beyond the seas our fame, our money, or only a crust of 
bread ; but it seems to me that for each of us going home 
must be like going to render an account. We return to 

- ___ > 


face our superiors, our kindred, our friends — those 
whom we obey, and those whom we love, but even they 
who have neither, the most free, lonely, irresponsible 
and bereft of ties, — even those for whom home holds no 
dear face, no familiar voice, — even they have to meet 
the spirit that dwells withm the land, under its sky, in 
its air, in its valleys, and on its rises, in its fields, in its 
waters and its trees — a mute friend, judge, and inspirer. 
Say what you like, to get its joy, to breathe its peace, 
to face its truth, one must return with a clear conscious- 
ness. All this may seem to you sheer sentimentalism; 
and indeed very few of us have the will or the capacity 
to look consciously under the surface of familiar 
emotions. There are the girls we love, the men we look 
up to, the tenderness, the friendships, the opportunities, 
the pleasures! But the fact remains that you must 
touch yoiu* reward with clean hands, lest it turn to dead 
leaves, to thorns, in your grasp. I think it is the lonely, 
without a fireside or an affection they may call their 
own, those who return not to a dwelling but to the land 
itself, to meet its disembodied, eternal, and unchange- 
able spirit — it is those who understand best its severity, 
its saving power, the grace of its secular right to our 
fidelity, to our obedience. Yes! few of us understand, 
but we all feel it though, and I say all without exception, 
because those who do not feel do not count. Each 
blade of grass has its spot on earth whence it draws its 
life, its strength; and so is man rooted to the land from 
which he draws his faith together with his life. I don't 
know how much Jim understood; but I know he felt, he 
felt confusedly but powerfully, the demand of some 
such truth or some such illusion — ^I don't care how you 
call it, there is so little difference, and the difference 
means so little. The thing is that in virtue of his feel- 
ing he mattered. He would never go home now. Not 


he. Never. Had he been capable of picturesque 
manifestations he would have shuddered at the thought 
and made you shudder, too. But he was not of that 
sort, though he was expressive enough in his way. 
Before the idea of going home he would grow desperately 
stiff and immovable, with lowered chin and pouted Ups, 
and with those candid blue eyes of his glowering darkly 
under a frown, as if before something unbearable, as it 
before something revolting. There was imagination in 
that hard skull of his, over which the thick clustering 
hair fitted like a cap. As to me, I have no imagination 
(I would be more certain about him to-day, if I had), 
and I do not mean to imply that I figured to myself the 
spirit of the land uprising above the white cliffs of 
Dover, to ask me what I — ^returning with no bones 
broken, so to speak — ^had done with my very young 
brother. I could not make such a mistake. I knew 
very well he was of those about whom there is no 
inquiry; I had seen better men go out, disappear, vanish 
utterly, without provoking a sound of curiosity or 
sorrow. The spirit of the land, as becomes the ruler of 
great enterprises, is careless of innumerable lives. Woe . 
to the stragglers ! We exist only in so far as we hang ^ 
together. He had straggled in a way; he had not hung 
on; but he was aware of it with an intensity that made 
him touching, just as a man's more intense life makes his 
death more touching than the death of a tree. I 
happened to be handy, and I happened to be touched. 
That's all there is to it. I was concerned as to the way 
he would go out. It would have hml me if, for instance, 
he had taken to drink. The earth is so small that I was 
afraid of, some day, being waylaid by a blear-eyed, 
swollen-faced, besmirched loafer, with no soles to his 
canvas shoes, and with a flutter of rags about the elbows, 
who, on the strength of old acquaintance, would ask for 


a loan of five dollars. You know the awful jaunty bear- 
ing of these scarecrows coming to you from a decent 
past, the rasping careless voice, the half-averted im- 
pudent glances— those meetings more trying to a man 
who believes in the solidarity of our lives than the sight 
of an impenitent deathbed to a priest. That, to tell 
you the truth, was the only danger I could see for him 
and for me; but I also mistrusted my want of imagi- 
nation. It might even come to something worse, in 
some way it was beyond my powers of fancy to foresee. 
He wouldn't let me forget how imaginative he was, and 
your imaginative people swmg farther in any direction, 
as if given a longer scope of cable in the uneasy anchor- 
age of life. They do. They take to drink, too. It may 
be I was belittling him by such a fear. How could I 
/ tell? Even Stein could say no more than that he was 
romantic. I onTy knew he was one of us. And what 
business had he to be romantic? I am telling you so 
much about my own instinctive feelings and bemused 
reflections because there remains so Kttle to be told of 
him. He existed 'for me, and after all it is only through 
me that he exists for you. I Ve led him out by the hand ; 
I have paraded him before you. Were my common- 
place fears unjust? I won't say — ^not even now. You 
may be able to tell better, since the proverb has it that 
the onlookers see most of the game. At any rate, they 
were superfluous. He did not go out, not at all; on the 
contrary, he came on wonderfully, came on straight as 
a die and in excellent form, which showed that he could 
stay as well as spurt. I ought to be delighted, for it is 
a victory in which I had taken my part; but I am not so 
pleased as I would have expected to be. I ask myself 
whether his rush had really carried him out of that mist 
in which he loomed interesting if not very big, with 
floating outlines — a straggler yearning inconsolably for 


his humble place in the ranks. And besides, the last 
word is not said, — ^probably shall never be said. Are 
not our lives too short for that full utterance which 
through all our stammerings is of course our only and 
abiding intention? I have given up expecting those 
last words, whose ring, if they could only be pronounced, 
would shake both heaven and earth. There is never 
time to say our last word — ^the last word of our love, of 
our desire, faith, remorse, submission, revolt. The 
heaven and the earth must not be shaken. I suppose — 
at least, not by us who know so many truths about 
either. My last words about Jim shall be few. I 
affirm he had achieved greatness; but the thing would 
be dwarfed in the telling, or rather in the hearing. 
Frankly, it is not my words that I mistrust but youir*"^ 
minds. I coidd be eloquent were I not afraid you 
fellows had starved your imaginations to feed your 
bodies. I do not mean to be oflFensive; it is respectable 
to have no illusions — and safe — and profitable — and 
dull. Yet you, too, in your time must have known the 
intensity of life, that light of glamour created in the 
shock of trifles, as amazing as the glow of sparks struck 
from a cold stone — and as short-lived, alas!" 




"The conquest of love, honour, men's confidence — \ 
the pride of it, the power of it, are fit materials for a y^J 
heroic tale; only our minds are struck by the externals of 
such a success, and to Jim's lunrrinci thrrr ww no — - 
(Externals* Thirty nmST of forest shut it off from the 
sight of an indifferent world, and the noise of the white 
surf along the coast overpowered the voice of fame. 
The stream of civilisation, as if divided on a headland 
a hundred miles north of Fatusan, branches east and 
south-east, leaving its plains and valleys, its old trees 
and its old mankind, neglected and isolated, such as an 
insignificant and crumbling islet between the two 
branches of a mighty, devouring stream. You find 
the name of the country pretty often in collections of 
old voyages. The seventeenth-century traders went 
there for pepper, because the passion for pepper seemed 
to bum like a flame of love in the breast of Dutch and 
English adventurers about the time of James the First. 
Where wouldn't they go for pepper! For a bag of 
pepper they would cut each other's throats without 
hesitation, and would forswear their souls, of which 
they were so careful otherwise: the bizarre obstinacy 
of that desire made them defy death in a thousand 
shapes; the unknown seas, the loathsome and strange 
diseases; wounds, captivity, hunger, pestilence, and 
despair. It made them great! By heavens! it made 
them heroic; and it made them pathetic, too, in their 
craving for trade with the inflexible death levying its 
toll on young and old. It seems impossible to believe 


that mere greed could hold men to such a steadfastness 
of purpose, to such a blind persistence in endeavour and 
sacrifice. And indeed those who adventured their 
persons and lives risked all they had for a slender re- 
ward. They left their bones to lie bleaching on dis- 
tant shores, so that wealth might flow to the living at 
home. To us, their less tried successors, they appear 
magnified, not as agents of trade but as instruments of a 
recorded destiny, pushing out into the unknown in 
obedience to an inward voice, to an impulse beating in 
the blood, to a dream of the future. They were wonder- 
ful; and it must be owned they were ready for the 
wonderful. They recorded it complacently in their 
sufferings, in the aspect of the seas, in the customs of 
strange nations, in the glory of splendid rulers. 

**In Fatusan they had found lots of pepper, and had 
been impressed by the magnificence and the wisdom of 
the Sultan; but somehow, after a century of checkered 
intercourse, the coimtry seems to drop gradually out of 
the trade. Perhaps the pepper had given out. Be it 
as it may, nobody cares for it now; the glory has de- 
parted, the Sultan is an imbecile youth with two thumbs 
on his left hand and an uncertain and beggarly revenue 
extorted from a miserable population and stolen from 
him by his many uncles. 

"This of course I have from Stein. He gave me 
their names and a short sketch of the life and character 
of each. He was as full of information about native 
States as an official report, but infinitely more amus- 
ing. He had to know. He traded in so many, and in 
some districts — ^as in Fatusan, for instance — ^his firm 
was the only one to have an agency by special permit 
from the Dutch authorities. The Government trusted 
his discretion, and it was understood that he took all the 
risks. The men he employed understood that, too, but 



he made it worth their while apparently. He was 
perfectly frank with me over the breakfast-table in the 
morning. As far as he was aware (the last news was 
thirteen months old, he stated precisely), utter in- 
security for life and property was the normal condition. 
There were in Pa tmaaH ..antagonistic forces, and one of 
them wa^^RajaEh Al lang^ jfle worst of the Sultan's uncles, 
the governor of the nver, who did the extorting and the 
stealing, and ground down to the point of extinction the 
country-bom Malays, who, utterly defenceless, had not 
even the resource of emigrating, — *for indeed,* as Stein 
remarked, * where could they go, and how could they 
get away?* No doubt they did not even desire to get 
away. The world (which is circumscribed by lofty 
impassable mountains) has been given into the hand of 
the high-bom, and this Rajah they knew: he was of 
their own royal house. I had the pleasure of meeting 
the gentleman later on. He was a dirty, Uttle, used-up 
old man with evil eyes and a weak mouth, who swal- 
lowed an opium pill every two hours, and in defiance of 
common decency wore his hair uncovered and falling 
in wild stringy locks about his wizened grimy face. 
When giving audience he would clamber upon a sort of 
narrow stage erected in a hall like a ruinous bam with a 
rotten bamboo floor, through the cracks of which you 
could see twelve or fifteen feet below the heaps of refuse 
and garbage of all kinds lying under the house. That 
is where and how he received us when, accompanied by 
Jim, I paid him a visit of ceremony. There were about 
forty people in the room, and perhaps three times as 
many in the great courtyard below. There was con- 
stant movement, coming and going, pushing and mur- 
muring, at our backs. A few youths in gay silks glared 
from the distance; the majority, slaves and humble 
dependants, were half naked, in ragged sarongs, dirty 


with ashes and mud-stains. I had never seen Jim look 
so grave, so self-possessed, in an impenetrable, im- 
pressive way. In the midst of these dark-faced men, 
his stalwart figure in white apparel, the gleaming clus- 
ters of his fair hair, seemed to catch all the sunshine that 
trickled through the cracks in the closed shutters of 
that dim hall, with its walls of mats and a roof of thatch. 
He appeared like a creature not only of another kind 
but of another essence. Had they not seen him come 
up in a canoe they might have thought he had descended 
upon them from the clouds. He did, however, come in 
a crazy dug-out, sitting (very still and with his knees 
together, for fear of overturning the thing) — sitting on 
a tin box — ^which I had lent him — ^nursing on his lap a 
revolver of the Navy pattern — ^presented by me on 
parting — which, through an interposition of Providence, 
or through some wrong-headed notion, that was just 
like him, or else from sheer instinctive sagacity, he had 
decided to carry imloaded. That's how he ascended the 
Fatusan river. Nothing could have been more prosaic 
and more unsafe, more extravagantly casual, more 
lonely. Strange, this fatality that would cast the 
complexion of a flight upon all his acts, of impulsive un- 
reflecting desertion — of m jump into the unknowne^!^^*-^, 

"It is precisely the casuahiess of it thai strikes me 
most. Neither Stein nor I had a clear conception of 
what might be on the other side when we, metaphori- 
cally speaking, took him up and hove him over the wall 
with scant ceremony. At the moment I merely wished 
to achieve his disappearance. Stein characteristically 
enough had a sentimental motive. He had a notion of 
paying oflF (in kind, I suppose) the old debt he had never 
forgotten. Indeed he had been all his life especially 
friendly to anybody from the British Isles. His late 
benefactor, it is true, was a Scot — even to the length of 


,,-• ' ■' 

being caUecf" Alexander M'NeitV-and Jim came from a 

long way soutirof the Tweed; but at the distance of six 
or seven thousand miles Great Britain, though never 
diminished, looks foreshortened enough even to its 
own children to rob such details of their importance. 
Stein was excusable, and his hinted intentions were so 
generous that I begged him most earnestly to keep them 
secret for a time. I felt that no consideration of per- 
sonal advantage should be allowed to influence Jim; 
that not even the risk of such influence should be run. 
We had to deal with another sort of reality. He wanted 
a refuge, and a refuge at the cost of danger should be 
offered him — ^nothing more. 

"Upon every other point I was perfectly frank with 
him, and I even (as I believed at the time) exaggerated 
the danger of the undertaking. As a matter of fact I 
did not do it justice; his first day in Fatusan was nearly 
his last — ^would have been his last if he had not been so 
reckless or so hard on himself and had condescended to 
load that revolver. I remember, as I unfolded our 
precious scheme for his retreat, how his stubborn but 
weary resignation was graduaUy replaced by surprise, 
interest, wonder, and by boyish eagerness. This was 
a chance he had been dreaming of. He couldn't think 
how he merited that I • • . He would be shot if he 
could see to what he owed • . • And it was Stein 
Stein the merchant, who . . . but of course it was 
me he had to ... I cut him short. He was not 
articulate, and his gratitude caused me inexplicable 
pain. I told him that if he owed this chance to any one 
especially, it was to an old Scot of whom he had never 
heard, who had died many years ago, of whom little was 
remembered besides a roaring voice and a rough sort of 
honesty. There was really no one to receive his thanks. 
Stein was passing on to a young man the help he had 


received in his own young days, and I had done no more 
than to mention his name. Upon this he coloured, and, 
twisting a bit of paper in his fingers, he remarked bash- 
fully that I had always trusted him. 

'*I admitted that such was the case, and added after a 
pause that I wished he had been able to follow my 
example. 'You think I don't?' he asked uneasily, and 
remarked in a mutter that one had to get some sort of 
show first; then brightening up, and in a loud voice he 
protested he would give me no occasion to regret my 
confidence, which — ^which . . . 

" *Do not misapprehend,' I interrupted. *It is not in 
your power to make me regret anything.' There would 
be no regrets; but if there were, it would be altogether 
my own affair: on the other hand, I wished him to 
understand clearly that this arrangement, this — ^this — 
experiment, was his own doing; he was responsible for 
it and no one else. *Why? Why,' he stammered, 
Hhis is the very thing that I . . / I begged him 
not to be dense, and he looked more puzzled than ever. 
He was in a fair way to make life intolerable to him- 
self. . . . *Do you think so?' he asked, disturbed; 
but in a moment added confidently, 'I was going on 
though. Was I not?' It was impossible to be angry 
with him: I could not help a smile, and told him that 
in the old days people who went on like this were on the 
way of becommg hermits in a wilderness. 'Hermits 
be hanged!' he commented with engaging unpulsive- 
ness. Of course he didn't mind a wilderness. . . . 
*I was glad of it,' I said. That was where he would be 
going to. He would find it lively enough, I ventured to 
promise. * Yes, yes,' he said, keenly. He had shown a 
desire, I continued inflexibly, to go out and shut the 
door after him. . . . 'Did I?' he interrupted in a 
strange access of gloom that seemed to envelop him 


from head to foot like the shadow of a passing cloud. 
He was wonderfully expressive after all. Wonderfully ! 
*Did I?* he repeated, bitterly. *You can't say I made 
much noise about it. And I can keep it up, too — only, 
confound it! you show me a door.* • . . *Very 
well. Pass on,' I struck in. I could make him a 
solemn promise that it would be shut behind him with a 
vengeance. His fate, whatever it was, would be ignored, 
because the country, for all its rotten state, was not 
judged ripe for interference. Once he got in, it would 
be for the outside world as though he had never existed. 
He would have nothing but the soles of his two feet to 
stand upon, and he would have first to find his ground at 
that. * Never existed — ^that's it, by Jove!* he mur- 
mured to himself. His eyes, fastened upon my lips, 
sparkled. If he had thoroughly understood the con- 
ditions, I concluded, he had better jump into the first 
gharry he could see and drive on to Stein's house for 
his final instructions. He flung out of the room be- 
fore I had fairly finished speaking." 


**He did not return till next morning. He had been 
kept to dinner and for the night. There never had 
been such a wonderful man as Mr. Stein. He had in 
his pocket a letter for Cornelius (*the Johnnie who's 
going to get the sack/ he explained with a momentary 
drop in his elation), and he exhibited with glee a silver 
ring, such as natives use, worn down very thin and 
showing faint traces of chasing. 

^^This was his introduction to an old chap called 
Doramin — one of the principal men out there — a big 
pot — who have been Mr. Stein's friend in that country 
where he had all these adventures. Mr. Stein called 
him * war-comrade.* War-comrade was good. Wasn't 
it? And didn't Mr. Stein speak English wonderfully 
well? Said he had learned it in Celebes — of all places! 
That was awfully funny. Was it not? He did speak 
with an accent — a twang — did I notice? That chap 
Doramin had given him the ring. They had exchanged 
presents when they parted for the last time. Sort of 
promising eternal friendship. He called it fine — did I 
not? They had to make a dash for dear life out of 
the country when that Mohammed — ^Mohammed — 
What's-his-name had been killed. I knew the story, 
of course. Seemed a beastly shame, didn't it? . . . 

^'He ran on like this, forgetting his plate, with a knife 
and fork in hand (he had found me at tiffin), slightly 
flushed, and with his eyes darkened many shades, which 
was with him a sign of excitement. The ring was a 
sort of credential — (*It's like something you read of in 


«S4 LORD JIM _ ^..««w 

books/ he threw in appreciativelyX^d Dorsq^Utri^uId 
do his best for him. Mr. Stein hifcd«been tibe means of 
saving that chap's life on some occasion; purely by 
accident, Mr. Stein had said, but he — ^Jim — had his 
own opinion about that. Mr. Stein was just the man 
to look out for such accidents. No matter. Accident 
or purpose, this would serve his turn immensely. 
Hoped to goodness the jolly old b^gar had not gone off 
the hooks meantime. Mr. Stein could not tell. There 
had been no news for more than a year; they were kick- 
ing up no end of an all-fired row amongst themselves, 
and the river was closed. Jolly awkward, this; but, no 
fear; he would manage to find a crack to get in. 

^'He impressed, almost frightened, me with his elated 
rattle. He was voluble like a youngster on the eve of a 
long holiday with a prospect of delightful scrapes, and 
such an attitude of mind in a grown man and in this 
connection had in it something phenomenal, a little 
mad, dangerous, unsafe. I was on the point of en- 
treating him to take things seriously when he dropped 
his knife and fork (he had begun eating, or rather 
swallowing food, as it were, unconsciously), and began a 
search all roimd his plate. The ring! The ring! 
Where the devil . . . Ah! Here it was. . . . 
He closed his big hand on it, and tried all his pockets one 
after another. Jove ! wouldn't do to lose the thing. He 
meditated gravely over his fist. Had it? Would 
hang the bally affair round his neck ! And he proceeded 
to do this immediately, producing a string (which looked 
like a bit of a cotton shoe-lace) for the purpose. There ! 
That would do the trick! It would be the deuce 
if . . . He seemed to catch sight of my face for the 
first time, and it steadied him a little. I probably 
didn't realize, he said with a naive gravity, how much 
importance he attached to that token. It meant a 


friend ; and it is a good thing to have a friend. He knew 
something about that. He nodded at me expressively, 
but before my disclaiming gesture he leaned his head 
on his hand and for a while sat silent, playing thought- 
fully with the bread-crumbs on the cloth. • • • 
^Slam the door — ^that was jolly well put/ he cried, and 
jumping up, b^an to pace the room, reminding me by 
the set of the shoulders, the turn of his head, the head- 
long and uneven stride, of that night when he had 
paced thus, confessing, explaining — ^what you will — 
but, in the last instance, living — ^living before me, under 
his own little cloud, with all his unconscious subtlety 
which could draw consolation from the very source of 
sorrow. It was the same mood, the same and different, 
like a fickle companion that to-day guiding you on the 
true path, with the same eyes, the same step, the same 
impulse, to-morrow will lead you hopelessly astray. 
His tread was assured, his straying, darkened eyes 
seemed to search the room for something. One of his 
footfalls somehow sounded louder than the other — the 
fault of his boots probably — ^and gave a curious im- 
pression of an invisible halt in his gait. One of his 
hands was rammed deep into his trousers-pocket, the 
other waved suddenly above his head. ^Slam the 
door!* he shouted. *IVe been waiting for that. I'll 
show yet • • • I'll • • • I'm ready for any 
confounded thing. . . • I've been dreaming of 
it . . • Jove! Get out of this. Jove! This is 
luck at last. . . . You wait. I'll . . / 

^'He tossed his head fearlessly, and I confess that 
for the first and last time in our acquaintance I per- 
ceived myself unexpectedly to be thoroughly sick 
of him. Why these vapourings? He was stumping 
about the room flourishing his arm absurdly, and now 
and then feeling on his breast for the ring under his 


clothes. Wh«^ was the sense of such exaltation in a 
man appointed to be a trading-derk, and in a place 
where there was no trade — at that? Why hurl de- 
fiance at the universe? This was not a proper frame of 
mind to approach any undertaking; an improper frame 
of mind not only for him, I said, but for any man. He 
stood stiU over me. Did I think so? he asked, by no 
means subdued, and with a smile in which I seemed to 
detect suddenly something Jiigplent. But then I am 
tw^ty years his aenior. /Youth is insolent; it is its 
right — ^its necessity; irhas got to assert itself, and all 
assertion in this world of doubts is a defiance, is an 
insolence. He went off into a far comer, and coming 
back, he, figuratively speaking, turned to rend me. I 
spoke like that because I — even I, who had been no end 
kind to him — even I remembered — ^remembered — 
against him — ^what — ^what had happened. And what 
about others — ^the — ^the — world? Where's the wonder 
he wanted to get out, meant to get out, meant to stay 
out — ^by heavens! And I talked about proper frames 
of mind! 

"*It is not I or the world who remember,' I shouted. 
*It is you — ^you, who remember/ 

"He did not flinch, and went on with heat, * Forget 
everything, everybody, everybody.' . . . His voice 
fell. . . . *But you,' he added. 

"*Yes — me, too — if it would help,' I said, also in a 
low tone. After this we remained silent and languid 
for a time as if exhausted. Then he began again, com- 
posedly, and told me that Mr. Stein had instructed him 
to wait for a month or so, to see whether it was possible 
for him to remain, before he began building a new house 
for himself, so as to avoid * vain expense.' He did make 
use of funny expressions — Stein did. *Vain expense' 
was good. . . . Remain? Why! of course. He 


would hang on. Let him only get in — ^that's all; he 
would answer for it he would remain. Never get out. 
It was easy enough to remain. 

"* Don't be foolhardy/ I said, rendered uneasy by his 
threatening tone. *If you only live long enough you 
will want to come back.' 

" * Come back to what? ' he asked, absently, with his 
eyes fixed upon the face of a dock on the wall. 

"I was silent for a while. *Is it to be never, then?' 
I said. * Never,' he repeated, dreamily, without look- 
ing at me, and then flew into sudden activity. * Jove I 
Two o'clock, and I sail at four!' 

"It was true. A brigantine of Stein's was leaving for 
the westward that afternoon, and he had been in- 
structed to take his passage in her, only no orders to 
delay the sailing had been given. I suppose Stein for- 
got. He made a rush to get his things while I went 
aboard my ship, where he promised to call on his way to 
the outer roadster. He turned up accordingly in a great 
hurry and with a small leather vaUse in his hand. This 
wouldn't do, and I offered him an old tin trunk of mine 
supposed to be water-tight, or at least damp-tight. He 
effected the transfer by the simple process of shooting 
out the contents of his valise as you would empty a sack 
of wheat. I saw three books in the tumble; two small, 
in dark covers, and a thick green-and-gold volume — ^a 
half-crown complete Shakespeare. *You read this?' 
I asked. *Yes. Best thing to cheer up a fell ow,' he 
said, hastily. I was struck by tJiis appreciation, but 
there was no time for Shakespearian talk. A heavy 
revolver and two small boxes of cartridges were lying 
on the cuddy-table. 'Pray take this,' I said. *It may 
help you to remain.' No sooner were these words out 
of my mouth than I perceived what grim meaning they 
could bear. *May help you to get in,' I corrected my- 


self, remorsefully. He, however, was not troubled by 
obscure meanings; he thanked me effusively and bolted 
out, calling Grood-bye over his shoulder. I heard his 
voice through the ship's side urging his boatmen to 
give way, and looking out of the stem-port I saw the 
boat rounding under the counter. He sat in her leaning 
forward, exciting his men with voice and gestures; and 
as he had kept the revolver in his hand and seemed to be 
presenting it at their heads, I shall never forget the 
scared faces of the four Javanese, and the frantic swing 
of their stroke which snatched that vision from under 
my eyes. Then turning away, the first thing I saw 
were the two boxes of cartridges on the cuddy-table. 
He had forgotten to take them. 

^^I ordered my gig manned at once; but Jim's rowers, 
under the impression that their lives himg on a thread 
while they had that madman in the boat, made such 
excellent time that before I had traversed half the dis- 
tance between the two vessels I caught sight of him 
clambering over the rail, and of his box being passed up. 
All the brigantine's canvas was loose, her mainsail was 
set, and the windlass was just beginning to clink as I 
stepped upon her deck: her master, a dapper little half- 
caste of forty or so, in a blue flannel suit, with lively 
eyes, his round face the coloiu* of lemon-peel, and with a 
thin little black moustache drooping on each side of his 
thick, dark lips, came forward smirking. He turned 
out, notwithstanding his self-satisfied and cheery 
exterior, to be of a careworn temperament. In answer 
to a remark of mine (while Jim had gone below for a 
moment) he said, *0h, yes. Patusan.' He was going 
to carry the gentleman to the mouth of the river, but 
would ^ never ascend.' His flowing English seemed to 
^be derived from a dictionary compiled by a lunatic. 
Had Mr. Stein desired him to * ascend,' he would have 


* reverentially' — (I think he wanted to say respect- 
fully — ^but devil only knows) — * reverentially made 
objects for the safety of properties/ If disregarded, he 
would have presented * resignation to quit/ Twelve 
months ago he had made his last voyage there, and 
though Mr. Cornelius * propitiated many oiflfertories* 
to Mr. Rajah Allang and the ^principal populations/ 
on conditions which made the trade ^a snare and ashes 
in the mouth,' yet his ship had been fired upon from the 
woods by * irresponsive parties* all the way down the 
river; which causing his crew ^from exposure to limb to 
remain silent in hidings/ the brigantine was nearly 
stranded on a sandbank at the bar, where she 'would 
have been perishable beyond the act of man.' The 
angry disgust at the recollection, the pride of his fluency, 
to which he turned an attentive ear, struggled for the 
possession of his broad simple face. He scowled and 
beamed at me, and watched with satisfaction the un- 
deniable effect of his phraseology. Dark frowns ran 
swiftly over the placid sea, and the brigantine, with her 
fore-topsail to the mast and her main-boom amidships, 
seemed bewildered amongst the cat's-paws. He told 
me further, gnashing his teeth, that the Rajah was a 
'laughable hyaena' (can't imagine how he got hold of 
hyaenas); while somebody else was many times falser 
than the 'weapons of a crocodile.' Keeping one eye on V 

the movements of his crew forward, he let loose hisy^^ 
volubility — comparing the place to a 'cage of beasts\ ^^^ 
made ravenous by long impenitence.' I fancy he) ^ 
meant impunity. He had no intention, he cried, to 
'exhibit himself to be made attached purposefully to 
robbery.' The long-drawn wails, giving the time for 
the pull of the men catting the anchor, came to an end, 
and he lowered his voice. 'Plenty too much enough of 
Patusan,' he concluded, with energy. 


^^I heard afterwards he had been so indiscreet as to 
get himself tied up by the neck with a rattan halter to a 
post planted in the middle of a mud-hole before the 
Rajah's house. He spent the best part of a day and a 
whole night in that unwholesome situation^ but there 
is every reason to believe the thing had been meant 
as a sort of joke. He brooded for a while over that 
horrid memory, I suppose, and then addressed in a 
quarrelsome tone the man coming aft to the helm. 
When he turned to me again it was to speak judicially, 
without passion. He would take the gentleman to the 
mouth of the river at Batu Kring (Fatusan town 'being 
situated internally/ he remarked, 'thirty miles')- But 
in his eyes, he continued — ^a tone of bored, weary con- 
tion replacing his previous voluble delivery — the 

entleman was already 'in fhpt jjf|pii1i tude 

at? What do you say?' I asked. He assumed* a 
lingly ferocious demeanour, and imitated to per- 
fection the act of stabbing from behind. 'AJffigdy like 
theTSody of one jS^ortgd)' he explained, with tT 


s ufferSEIy cbrJC^ited air of hi s ki nd aiter j£hat tbey 
imagine a display of clev erness. BeEinHhim I per- 
ceived Jim smiling silently at me, and with a raised hand 
checking the exclamation on my lips. 

"Then, while the half-caste, bursting with impor- 
tance, shouted his orders, while the yards swung creak- 
ing and the heavy boom came surging over, Jim and I, 
alone as it were, to leeward of the mainsail, clasped each 
other's hands and exchanged the last hurried words. 
My heart was freed from that dull resentment which 
had existed side by side with interest in his fate. The 
absurd chatter of the half-caste had given more reality 
to the miserable dangers of his path than Stein's care- 
ful statements. On that occasion the sort of formality 
that had been always present in our intercoiuse van- 


ished from our speech; I believe I called higj *deax boy,' 
and he tacked on the».woFd(»--^-^d-man' to some half- 
uttered expression of gratitude, as though his risk set off 
against my years had made us more equal in age and in 
feeling. There was a moment of real and profound 
intimacy, unexpected and short-lived like a glimpse of 
some everlasting, of some saving truths He exerted 
himself to soothe me as though he had been the more 
mature of the two. * All right, all right,' he said, rapidly, 
and with feeling. *I promise to take care of myself. 
Yes ; I won't take any risks. Not a single blessed risk. 
Of course not. I mean to hang out. Don't you worry. 
Jove ! I feel as if nothing could touch me. Why ! this is 
luck from the word Go. I wouldn't spoil such a mag- 
nificent chance ! ' . . . A magnificent chance! Well, it 
was magnificent, but chances are what men make them, 
and how was I to know? As he had said, even I — even 
I remembered— his— his misfortunes against him. It 
was true. And the best thing for him was to go. 

"My gig had dropped in the wake of the brigantine, 
and I saw him aft detached upon the light of the wester- 
ing sun, raising his cap high above his head. I heard 
an indistinct shout, *You — shall — ^hear — of — ^me.' Of 
me, or from me, I don't know which. I think it must 
have been of me. My eyes were too dazzled by the v\ 
glitter of the sea below his feet to see him clearly; I am J , 
fated never to see hi]iixlea£ly4.i)ut I can assure you no ^ ' 
man could have appeared less 'in the similitude of a 
corpse,' as that half-caste croaker had put it. I could 
see the Httle wretch's face, the shape and colour of a ripe 
pumpkin, poked out somewhere under Jim's elbow. He, 
too, raised his arm as if for a downward thrust. Ahsii 


^^The coast of Patusan (I saw it nearly two years 
afterwards) is straight and sombre, and faces a misty 
ocean. Red trails are seen like cataracts of rust stream- 
ing under the dark-green foliage of bushes and creepers 
clothing the low cliffs. Swampy plains open out at the 
mouth of rivers, with a view of jagged blue peaks beyond 
the vast forests. In the offing a chain of islands, 
dark, crumbling shapes, stand out in the everlast- 
ing sunlit haze like the remnants of a wall breached 
by the sea. 

^^There is a village of fisher-folk at the mouth of the 
Batu Kring branch of the estuary. The river, which 
had been closed so long, was open then, and Stein's 
little schooner, in which I had my passage, worked her 
way up in three tides without being exposed to a 
fusillade from * irresponsive parties.' Such a state of 
affairs belonged already to ancient history, if I could 
believe the elderly headman of the fishing village, who 
came on board to act as a sort of pilot. He talked to 
me (the second white man he had ever seen) with con- 
fidence, and most of his talk was about the first white 
man he had ever seen. He called him Tuan Jim, and 
the tone of his references was made remarkable by a 
strange mixture of familiarity and awe. They, in the 
village, were under that lord's special protection, which 
showed that Jim bore no grudge. If he had warned me 
that I would hear of him it was- perfectly true. I was 
hearing of him. There was already a story that the tide 
had turned two hours before its time to help him on his 



journey up the river. The talkative old man himself 
had steered the canoe and had marvelled at the phe~ 
nomenon. Moreover^ all the glory was in his family. 
His son and his son-in-law had paddled; but they were 
only youths without experience, who did not notice the 
speed of the canoe till he pointed out to them the 
amazing fact. 

"" Jim's coming to that fishing village was a blessing; 
but to them, as to many of us, the blessing came 
heralded by terrors/ So many generations had been 
released since the last white man had visited the river 
that the very tradition had been lost. The appearance 
of the being that descended upon them and demanded 
inflexibly to be taken up to Patusan was discomposing; 
his insistence was alarming; his generosity more than 
suspicious. It was an unheard-of request. There was 
no precedent. What would the Rajah say to this? 
What would he do to them? The best part of the night 
was spent in consultation; but the inmiediate risk from 
the anger of that strange man seemed so great that at 
last a cranky dug-out was got ready. The women 
shrieked with grief as it put off. A fearless old hag 
cursed the stranger. 

""He sat in it, as I've told you, on his tin box, nursing 
the unloaded revolver on his lap. He sat with pre- 
caution — ^than which there is nothing more f atiguii^g — 
and thus entered the land he was destined to fill with the 
fame of his virtues, from the blue peaks inland to the 
white ribbon of surf on the coast. At the first bend he 
lost sight of the sea with its labouriing waves for ever 
^mg, sinkbg, and vanishing to rise again^the yeiy. 
image of struggling mankind:^and7aced the inunovable 
f(»ests rooted deep in the soil, soaring towards the sun- 
shine, everlasting injjii&^hadawy might of their tradi- 
tion, likg life itsel^.jAnd his opportunity s^t veiled by 


Ids side l&e «a E»rtem l>ridi^jraitmg to be ancovered 

Lhy th^ hand of the innifrr, J He,^oo9 was the heir of a 
shadowy and mighty traditionl He told me, how- 

ever, that he had never in his lift felt so depressed and 
tired as in that canoe. AU the movement he dared to 
allow himself was to reach, as it were by stealth, after 
the shell of half a cocoa-nut floating between his shoes, 
and bale some of the water out with a carefully re- 
strained action. He discovered how hard the lid of a 
block-tin case was to sit upon. He had heroic health; 
but several times during that journey he experienced 
fits of giddiness, and between whiles he speculated 
hazily as to the size of the blister the sun was raising on 
his back. For amusement he tried by looking ahead to 
decide whether the muddy object he saw lying on the 
water's edge was a log of wood or an alligator. Only 
very soon he had to give that up. No fun in it. Al- 
ways alligator. One of them flopped into the river 
and all but capsized the canoe. But this excite- 
ment was over directly. Then in a long empty reach 
he was very grateful to a troop of monkeys who 
came right down on the bank and made an insulting 
hullabaloo on his passage. Such was the way in 
which he was approaching greatness as genuine as any 
man ever achieved. Principally, he longed for sunset; 
and meantime his three paddlers were preparing to 
put into execution their plan of delivering him up to 
the Rajah. 

"'I suppose I must have been stupid with fatigue, or 
perhaps I did doze off for a time/ he said. The first 
thing he knew was his canoe coming to the bank. He 
became instantaneously aware of the forest having 
been left behind, of the first houses being visible higher 
up, of a stockade on his left, and of his boatmen leaping 
out together upon a low point of land and taking to 


their heels. Instinctively he leaped out after them. 
At first he thought himself deserted for some incon- 
ceivable reason, but he heard excited shouts, a gate 
swung open, and a lot of people poured out, making 
towards him. At the same time a boat full of armed 
men appeared on the river and came alongside his 
empty canoe, thus shutting off his retreat. 

"*I was too startled to be quite cool — don't you 
know? and if that revolver had been loaded I would 
have shot somebody — ^perhaps two, three bodies, and 
that would have been the end of me. But it 
wasn't. . . : 'Why not?' I asked. 'Well, I 
couldn't fight the whole population, and I wasn't com- 
ing to them as if I were afraid of my life,' he said, with 
just a faint hint of his stubborn suUdness in the glance 
he gave me. I refrained from pointing out to him that 
they could not have known the chambers were actually 
empty. He had to satisfy himself in his own way. . . . 
'Anyhow it wasn't,' he repeated, good-humoiu*edly, 
'and so I just stood still and asked them what was the 
matter. That seemed to strike them dumb. I saw 
some of these thieves going off with my box. That 
long-legged old scoundrel Kassim (I'll show him to you 
to-morrow) ran out fussing to me about the Rajah 
wanting to see me. I said, "All right"; I, too, wanted 
to see the Rajah, and I simply walked in through the 
gate and — and — ^here I am.' He laughed, and then 
with unexpected emphasis, 'And do you know what's 
the best in it?' he asked. 'I'll tell you. It's the 
knowledge that had I been wiped out it is this place that 
would have been the loser.' 

"He spoke thus to me before his house on that 
evening I've mentioned — after we had watched the 
moon float away above the chasm between the hills like 
an ascending spirit out of a grave; its sheen descended. 






cold and pale, like the ghost of dead sunlight. There 
[is something haunting in the light of the moon; it has 
all the dispassionateness of a disembodied soul, and 
something of its inconceivable mystery. It is to our 
sunshine, which — say what you like — is all we have to 
live by, what the edio is to the sound: misleading and 
confusing whether the note be mocking or sad. It robs 
all forms of matter — which, after all, is our domain — 
of their substance, and gives a sinister reality to shadows 
alone. And the shadows were very real around us, but 
Jim by my side looked very stalwart, as though noth* 
ing — ^not even the occult power of moonlight — could 
rob him of his reality in my eyes. Perhaps, indeed, 
nothing could touch him since he had survived the 
.jussault of the dark powers. All was silent, all was still; 
even on the river the moonbeams slept as on a pool. It 
was the moment of high water, a moment of immobility 
that accentuated the utter isolation of this lost comer 
of the earth. The houses crowding along the wide 
shining sweep without ripple or glitter, stepping into 
the water in a line of jostling, vague, grey, silvery forms 
mingled with black masses of shadow, were like a 
spectral herd of shapeless creatures pressing forward to 
drink in a spectral and lifeless stream. Here and there 
a red gleam twinkled within the bamboo walls, warm, 
like a living spark, significant of human affections, of 
shelter, of repose. 

"He confessed to me that he often watched these tiny 
warm gleams go out one by one, that he loved to see 
people go to sleep under his eyes, confident in the 
security of to-morrow. * Peaceful here, eh?' he asked. 
He was not eloquent, but there was a deep meaning in 
the words that followed. ^Look at these houses; 
there's not one where I am not trusted. Jove! I told 
you I would hang on. Ask any man, woman, or 


child • • /He paused. ' Well, I am all right aay- 

"I observed quickly that he had found that out in the 
end. I had been sure of it, I added. He shook his 
head. * Were you? * He pressed my arm lightly above 
the elbow. *Well, then — ^you were right.' 

^^ There was elation and pride, there was awe almost, 
in that low exclamation. ^ Jove!' he cried, ^only think 
what it is to me.' Again he pressed my arm. 'And 
you asked me whether I thought of leaving. Good 
(rod! I! want to leave! Especially now after what 
you told me of Mr. Stein's . . . Leave! Why! 
That's what I was afraid of. It would have been — 
it would have been harder than dying. No — on my 
word. Don't laugh. I must feel — every day, every 
time I open my eyes — ^that I am trusted — ^that nobody 
has a right — don't you know? Leave! For where? 
What for? To get what? ' 

*;i had told him (indeed it was the main object of my 
visit) that it was Stein's intention to present him at 
once with the house and the stock of trading goods, on 
certain easy conditions which would make the trans- 
action perfectly regular and valid. He b^an to snort 
and plunge at first. * Confound your delicacy!' I 
shouted. ^It isn't Stein at all. It's giving you what 
you had made for yourself. And in any case keep your 
remarks for M'Neil — ^when you meet him in the other 
world. I hope it won't happen soon. . • .' He had 
to give in to my arguments, because all his conquests, 
the trust, the fame, the friendships, the love — ^all these 
thingshAat made him master had made him a captive, — .^ 
too. I He lodked with an owner's eye at the peace of the / 
^ — evening, at the river, at the houses, at the everlasting / 
life of the forests, at the life of the old mankind, at the / *S^ 
secrets of the land, at the pride of his own heart: but it / ( 

% . \ 




was they that possessed him and made him their own to 
the innermost thoiight,(td the slightest stir of blood, to 
his last breath. ^ 

'^It was something to be proud of. I, too, was proud 
— for him, if not so certain of the fabulous value of the 
bargain. It was wonderful. It was not so much of his 
fearlessness that I thought. It is strange how little 
account I took of it: as if it had been something too 
conventional to be at the root of the matter. No. I 
was more struck by the other gifts he had displayed. 
He had proved his grasp of the unfamiliar situation, his 
intellectual alertness in that field of thought. There 
was his readiness, too! Amazing. And all this had 
come to him in a manner like keen scent to a well-bred 
hound. He was not eloquent, but there was a dignity 
in this constitutional reticence, there was a high serious- 
ness in his stammerings. He had still his old trick of 
stubborn blushing. Now and then, though, a word, a 
sentence, would escape him that showed how deeply, 
how solemnly, he felt about that work which had given 
. him. the certitude of rehabiKtatibii^ That is why he 
( seemed to love the land and the people with a sort of 
\ fierce egoism, with a contemptuous tenderness.'' 




V ■ '^ 


"*This is where I was prisoner for three days,* he 
murmured to me (it was on the occasion of our visit to 
the Rajah), while we were making our way slowly 
through a kind of awestruck riot of dependants across 
Tunku AUang's courtyard. * Filthy place, isn't it? 
And I couldn't get anylJiing to eat either, unless I made 
a row about it, and then it was only a small plate of 
rice and a fried fish not much bigger than a stickle- 
back — confound them ! Jove ! Fve been himgry prowl- 
ing inside this stinking enclosure with some of these 
vagabonds shoving their mugs right imder my nose. I 
had given up that famous revolver of yours at the first 
demand. Glad to get rid of the bally thing. Look 
like a fool walking about with an empty shooting-iron 
in my hand.' At that moment we came into the 
presence, and he became unflinchingly grave and com- 
plimentary with his late captor. Oh! magnificent! 
I want to laugh when I think of it. But I was im- 
pressed, too. The old disreputable Tunku AUang could 
not help showing his fear (he was no hero, for all the 
tales of his hot youth he was fond of telling); and at 
the same time there was a wistful confidence in his 
manner towards his late prisoner. Note ! Even where 
he would be most hated he was still trusted. Jim — ^as 
far as I could follow the conversation — ^was improving 
the occasion by the delivery of a lecture. Some poor 
villagers had been waylaid and robbed while on their 
way to Doramin's house with a few pieces of gum or 
beeswax which they wished to exchange for rice. *It 



was Doramin who was a thief/ burst out the Rajah. 
A shaking fury seemed to enter that old frail body. He 
writhed weirdly on his mat, gesticulating with his hands 
and feet, tossing the tangled strings of his mop — an 
impotent incarnation of rage. There were staring eyes 
and dropping jaws all around us. Jim b^an to speak* 
Resolutely, coolly, and for some time he enlarged upon 
the text that no man should be prevented from getting 
his food and his children's food honestly. The other 
sat like a tailor at his board, one palm on each knee, his 
head low, and fixing Jim through the grey hair that fell 
over his very eyes. When Jim had done there was a 
great stillness. Nobody seemed to breathe even; no 
one made a sound till the old Rajah sighed faintly, and 
looking up, with a toss of his head, said quickly, ^You 
hear, my people ! No more of these little games.' This 
decree was received in profound silence. A rather 
heavy man, evidently in a position of confidence, with 
intelligent eyes, a bony, broad, very dark face, and a 
cheerily officious manner (I learned later on he was the 
executioner), presented to us two cups of coffee on a 
brass tray, which he took from the hands of an inferior 
attendant. *You needn't drink,' muttered Jim very 
rapidly. I didn't perceive the meaning at first, and 
only looked at him. He took a good sip and sat 
composedly, holding the saucer in his left hand. In a 
moment I felt excessively annoyed. *Why the devil,* 
I whispered, smiling at him amiably, Mo you expose me 
to such a stupid risk?' I drank, of course, there was 
nothing for it, while he gave no sign, and almost im- 
mediately afterwards we took our leave. While we 
were going down the courtyard to our boat, escorted by 
the intelligent and cheery executioner, Jim said he was 
very sorry. It was the biarest chance, of course. Per- 
sonally he thought nothing of poison. The remotest 


chance. He was — ^he assured me — considered to be 
infinitely more useful than dangerous, and so • • • 
^But the Rajah is afraid of you abominably. Anybody 
can see that/ I argued, witih, I own, a certain peevish- 
ness, and all the time watching anxiously for the first 
twist of some sort of ghastly colic. I was awfully dis- 
gusted. *If I am to do any good here and preserve my 
position,' he said, taking his seat by my side in the boat, 
^I must stand the risk: I take it once every month, at 
least. Many people trust me to do that — ^for them. 
Afraid of me! That's just it. Most likely he is afraid 
of me because I am not afraid of his coffee.' Then ■ 
showing me a place on the north front of the stockade S^ 
where the pointed tops of several stakes were broken, ^' 
* This is where I leaped oy er on my third d ay in Patusan. | tfi^"^ 
They haven't put new stakes there yet. Good leap, eh? ' 
A moment later we passed the mouth of a muddy creek. 
^This is m vsecond l^ p. I had a bit of a run and took 
this one flymg, but fell short. Thought I would leave 
my skin there. Lost my shoes struggling. And all the 
time I was thinking to myself how beastly it would be to 
get a jab with a bally long spear while sticking in the 
mud like this. I remember how sick I felt wrij 
thatjlixQe. I ui(Uin 'reahy sick — ^as if i naa bitien some- 
{Emg rotten.' 

"That's how it was — ^and the opportunity ran by his 
side, leaped over the gap, floundered in the mud • • • 
still veiled. The unexpectedness of his coining was the 
only thing, you understand, that saved him from being 
at once despatched with krises and flung into the river. 
They had him, but it was like getting hold of an ap- 
parition, a wraith, a portent. What did it mean? 
What to do with it? Was it too late to conciliate him? 
Hadn't he better ie killed without more delay? But 
what would happen then? Wretched old Allang went 



nearly mad with apprehension and through the difficulty 
I making up his mind. Several times the council was 
roken up, and the advisers made a break helter-skelter 
or the dpor and out on to the verandah. One — ^it is 
aid — even jumped down to the groimd — ^fifteen feet, I 
should judge — ^and broke his leg. The royal governor 
of Patusan had bizarre mannerisms, and one of them 
was to introduce boastful rhapsodies into every arduous 
discussion, when, getting gradually excited, he would 
end by flying off his perch with a kris m his hand. But, 
barring such interruptions, the deUberations upon Jim's 
fate went on night and day. 

** Meanwhile he wandered about the courtyard, 
shunned by some, glared at by others, but watched by 
all, and practically at the mercy of the first casual 
ragamuffin with a chopper, in there. He took posses- 
sion of a small tumble-down shed to sleep in; the effuvia 
of ffith and rotten matter inconmioded him greatly: it 
seems he had not lost his appetite though, because — ^he 
told me — ^he had been hungry all the blessed time. 
Now and again *some fussy ass' deputed from the coun- 
cil-room would come out running to him, and in honeyed 
I tones would administer amazing interrogatories : * Were 
the Dutch coming to take the country? Would the 
white man like to go back down the river? What was 
the object of coming to such a miserable country? The 
Rajah wanted to know whether the white man could 
repair a watch? They did actually bring out to him a 
nickel clock of New England make, and out of sheer un- 
bearable boredom he busied himself in trying to get the 
alarum to work. It was apparently when thus occupied 
in his shed that the true perception of his eirtreme peril 
dawned upon him. He dropped the thing — ^he says — 
*like a hot potato,' and walked out hastily, without the 
slightest idea of what he would, or indeed could, do. 



He only knew that the position was intolerable. He 
strolled aimlessly beyond a sort of ramshackle little 
granary on posts, and his eyes fell on the broken stakes 
of the palisade; and then — ^he says — ^at once, without 
any mental process as it were, without any stir of 
emotion, he set about hi§ escape as if executing a plan 
matured for a month. riBtek^ walked oflF carelessly to give 
himself a good run, ana when he faced about there was 
some dignitary, with two spearmen in attendance^ 
close at his elbow ready with a question* / He started 
oflF *from under his very nose,' went over *like a bird,' 
and landed on the other side with a fall that jarred all his 
bones and seemed to spUt his head. He picked himself 
up instantly. He never thought of anything at the 
time; all he could remember — ^he said — ^was a great yell; 
the first houses of Patusan were before him four him- 
dred yards away; he saw the creek, and as it were 
mechanically put on more pace. The earth seemed 
fairly to fly backwards under his feet. He took off 
from the last dry spot, felt himself flying through 
the air, felt himself, without any shock, planted up- 
right in an extremely soft and sticky mudbank. It 
was only when he tried to move his legs and found he 
couldn't that, in his own words, *he came to himself.* 
He began to think of the * bally long spears.' As a 
matter of fact, considering that the people inside the 
stockade had to run to the gate, then get down to the 
landing-place, get into boats, and pull round a point of 
land, he had more advance than he imagined. Besides, 
it being low water, the creek was without water — ^you 
couldn*t call it dry — ^and practically he was safe for a 
time from everything but a very long shot perhaps. 
The higher firm ground was about six feet in front of 
him. *I thought I would have to die there all the 
same,' he said. He reached and grabbed desperately 



with his hands, and only succeeded in gathering a 
horrible cold shiny heap of slime against his breast — 
up to his very chin. It seemed to him he was burying 
himself alive» and then he struck out madly, scattering 
the mud with his fists. It fell on his head, on his face, 
over his eyes, into his mouth. He told me that he 
remembered suddenly the courtyard, as you remember a 
place where you had been very happy years ago. He 

said — ^to be back there again, mending 

^r -that was the id ea. He 

\e efforts, tremendous sobbing, gasping efforts, 
Forts that seemed to burst his eyeballs in their sockets 
land make him blind, and culminating into one mighty 
[supreme effort in the darkness to crack the earth 
sunder, to throw it off his limbs — and he felt himself 
creeping feebly up the bank. He lay full length on the 
firm ground and saw the light, the sky. Then as a sort 
of happy thought the notion came to him that he would 
go to sleep. He will have it that he did actually go to 
sleep; that he slept — ^perhaps for a minute, perhaps for 
twenty seconds, or only for one second, but he recollects 
distinctly the violent convulsive start of awakening. 
He remained lying still for a while, and then he arose 
muddy from head to foot and stood there, thinking he 
was alone of his kind for hundreds of miles, alone, with 

y no help, no sympathy, no pity to expect from any one, 
like a hunted animal. The first houses were not more 

'^ c than twenty yards from him; and it was the desperate 

/screaming of a frightened woman trying to carry off a 
child that started him again. He pelted straight on 
in his socks, beplastered with filth out of all semblance 
to a human being. He traversed more than half the 
length of the settlement. The nimbler women fied 
right and left, the slower men just dropped whatever 
they had in their hands, and remained petrified with 



dropping jaws. He was a flying terror. He says he 
noticed the little children trying to run for life, falling 
on their little stomachs and kicking. He swerved 
between two houses up a slope, clambered in despera- 
tion over a barricade of felled trees (there wasn't a week 
without some fight in Patusan at that time), burst 
through a fence into a maize-patch, where a scared boy 
flung a stick at him, blimdered upon a path, and ran all 
at once into the arms of several startled men. He just 
had breath enough to gasp out, ^Doramin! Doramin!' 
He remembers being half -carried, half-rushed to the top 
of the slope, and in a vast enclosure with palms and 
fruit-trees being run up to a large man sitting massively 
in a chair in the midst of the greatest possible com- 
motion and excitement. He fumbled in mud and clothes 
to produce the ring, and, finding himself suddenly on his 
back, wondered who had knocked him down. They had 
simply let him go — don't you know? — ^but he couldn't 
stand. At the foot of the slope random shots were 
fired, and above the roofs of the settlement there rose a 
dull roar of amazement. But he was safe. Doramin's 
people were barricading the gate and pouring water 
down his throat; Doramin's old wife, full of business and 
commiseration, was issuing shrill orders to her girls. 
^The old woman,' he said, softly, ^rnade a to-do over 
me as if I had been her own son. They put me into 
an immense bed — ^her state bed — and she ran in and out 
wiping her eyes to give me pats on the back. I must 
have been a pitiful object. I just lay there like a log for 
I don't know how long.' 

""He seemed to have a great liking for Doramin's 
old wife. She on her side had taken a motherly fancy 
to him. She had a round, nut-brown, soft face, all 
fine wrinkles, large, bright red lips (she chewed betel 
assiduously), and screwed-up, winking, benevolent 



eyes. She was constantly in movement, scolding busily 
and ordering imceasingly a troop of young women with 
clear brown faces and big grave eyes, her daughters, 
— bec^ervants, her slave-girls. You know how it is in 
these households: it's generally impossible to tell the 
^ difference. She was very spare, and even her ample 
outer garment, fastened in front with jewelled clasps, 
had somehow a skimpy effect. Her dark bare feet 
were thrust into yellow straw slippers of Chinese make. 
I have seen her myself flitting about with her extremely 
thick, long, grey hair falling about her shoulders. She 
uttered homely shrewd sayings, was of noble birth, and 
was eccentric and arbitrary. In the afternoon she 
would sit in a very roomy arm-chair, opposite her hus- 
band, gazing steadily through a wide opening in the 
wall which gave an extensive view of the settlement 
and the river. 

"She invariably tucked up her feet under her, but 
old Doramin sat squarely, sat imposingly as a moimtain 
sits on a plain. He was only of the nakkoda or merchant 
class, but the respect shown to him and the dignity of 
his bearing were very striking. He was the chief of the 
second power in Patusan. The inunigrants from Celebes 
(about sixty families that, with dependants and so on, 
could muster some two hundred men * wearing the kris') 
had elected him years ago for their head. The men of 
that race are intelligent, enterprising, revengeful, but 
with a more frank courage than the other Malays, and 
restless under oppression. They formed the party 
opposed to the Rajah. Of course the quarrels were for 
trade. This was the primary cause of faction fights, 
of the sudden outbreaks that would fill this or that part 
of the settlement with smoke, flame, the noise of shots 
and shrieks. Villages were burnt, men were dragged 
into the Rajah's stockade to be killed or tortured for 



the crime of trading with anybody else but himself. 
Only a day or two before Jim's arrival several heads 
of households in the very fishing village that was after- 
wards taken under his especial protection had been 
driven over the cliflFs by a party of the Rajah's spear- 
men, on suspicion of having been coUecting edible birds' 
nests for a Celebes trader. Rajah Allang pretended to 
be the only trader in his coimtry, and the penalty for 
the breach of the monopoly was death; but his idea of 
trading was indistinguishable from the conmionest 
forms of robbery. BGs cruelty and rapacity had no 
other bounds than his cowardice, and he was afraid of 
the organised power of the Celebes men, only — ^till Jim 
came — ^he was not afraid enough to keep quiqt^*':Be 
struck at them through his subjects, and thought 
himself pathetically in the right. The situation was 
complicated by a wandering stranger, an Arab half- I 
breed, who, I believe, on purely religious grounds, had 1 
incited the tribes in the interior (the bush-folk, as Jim | 
himself called them) to rise, and had established himself | 
in a fortified camp on the summit of one of the twin I 
hills. He hung over the town of Fatusan like a hawk 1 
over a poultry-yard, but he devastated the open coun- 
try. Whole villages, deserted, rotted on their black- 
ened posts over the banks of clear streams, dropping 
piecemeal into the water the grass of their walls, the 
leaves of their roofs, with a curious effect of natural 
decay as if they had been a form of vegetation stricken 
by a blight at its very root. The two parties in Fatusan 
were not sure which one this partisan most desired to 
plunder. The Rajah intrigued with him feebly. Some 
of the Bugis settlers, weary with endless insecurity, were 
half inclined to call him in. The younger spirits 
amongst them, chaffing, advised to *get Sherif Ali with 
his wild men and drive the Rajah Allang out of the 


country/ Doramin restrained them with difficulty. 
He was growing old, and, though his influence had not 
diminished, the situation was getting beyond him. 
This was the state of affairs when Jim, bolting from the 
Rajah's stockade, appeared before the chief of the 
Bugis, produced the ring, and was received, in a manner 
of speaking, into the heart of the community.*' 



^DoRAMiN was one of the most remarkable men of 
his race I had ever seen. His bulk for a Malay was 
immense, but he did not look merely fat; he looked 
imposing, momunental. This motionless body, dad in 
rich stuffs, coloured silks, gold embroideries; this huge 
head, enfolded in a red-and-gold head-kerchief; the 
flat, big, round face, wrinkled, furrowed, with two 
semicircular heavy folds starting on each side of wide, 
fierce nostrils, and enclosing a thick-lipped mouth; the 
throat like a bull; the vast corrugated brow overhanging 
the staring proud eyes — ^made a whole that, once seen, 
can never be forgotten. His impassive repose (he 
seldom stirred a limb when once he sat down) was like 
a display of dignity. He was never known to raise his 
voice. It was a hoarse and powerful murmur, slightly 
veiled as if heard from a distance. When he walked, 
two short, sturdy young fellows, naked to the waist, in 
white sarongs and with black skull-cap^ on the backs of 
their heads, sustained his elbows; they would ease him 
down and stand behind his chair till he wanted to rise, 
when he would turn his head slowly, as if with difficulty, 
to the right and to the left, and then they would catch 
him under his armpits and help him up. For all that, 
there was nothing of a cripple about him: on the con- 
trary, all his ponderous movements were like mani- 
festations of a mighty deliberate force. It was generally 
believed he consulted his wife as to public affairs; but 
nobody, as far as I know, had ever heard them exchange 
a single word. When they sat in state by the wide 



opening it was in silence. They could see below them in 
the declining light the vast expanse of the forest coun- 
try, a dark sleeping sea of sombre green imdulating as 
far as the violet and purple range of mountains; the 
shining sinuosity of the river like an immense letter 
S of beaten silver; the brown ribbon of houses following 
the sweep of both banks, overtopped by the twin hills 
uprising above the nearer tree-tops. They were won- 
derfully contrasted: she, light, delicate, spare, quick, 
a little witch-like, with a touch of motherly fussiness 
in her repose; he, facing her, immense and heavy, like 
a figure of a man roughly fashioned of stone, with some- 
thing magnanimous and ruthless in his inmiobility. The 
son of these old people was a most distinguished youth. 
^^They had him late in life. Perhaps he was not 
really so young as he looked. Four- or five-and- 
twenty is not so yoimg when a man is already father 
of a family at eighteen. When he entered the large 
room, lined and carpeted with fine mats, and with a 
high ceiling of white sheeting, where the couple sat in 
state surrounded by a most deferential retinue, he 
would make his way straight to Doramin, to kiss his 
hand — which the other abandoned to him majesti- 
cally — and then would step across to stand by his 
mother's chair. I suppose I may say they idolised 
him, but I never caught them giving him an overt 
glance. Those, it is true, were public fimctions. The 
room was generally thronged. The solemn formality 
of greetings and leave-takings, the profoimd respect ex- 
pressed in gestures, on the faces, in the low whispers, 
is simply indescribable. ^It's weU worth seeing,' Jim 
had assured me while we were crossing the river, on our 
way back. *They are like people in a book, aren't they? ' 
he said triumphantly. *And Dain Waris — their son — 
is the best friend (barring you) I ever had. What Mr. 

LORD JIM ^ 261 

Stein would call a good "war-comrade/* I was in 
luck. Jove! I was in luck when I tumbled amongst 
them at my last gasp/ He meditated with bowed head, 
then rousing himself he added : 

" *0f course I didn't go to sleep over it, but . . .* 
He paused again. *It seemed to come to me,* he mur- 
mured. * All at once I saw what I had to do . . / 

"There was no doubt that it had come to him; and it ^^ 
had come through the war, too, as is natural, since this ^fl^*^ 
power that came to him was the power to make peac e. 
It is in this sense alone that miglit so often is right. 
You must not think he had seen his way at once. When 
he arrived the Bugis community was in a most critical 
position. *They were all afraid,' he said to me — *each 
man afraid for himself; while I could see as plain as 
possible that they must do something at once, if they 
did not want to go under one after another, what 
between the Rajah and that vagabond Sherif / But to 
see that was nothing. When he got his idea he had to 
drive it into reluctant minds, through the bulwarks of 
fear, of selfishness. He drpve it ii^ ^% las t. And that 
was nothing. He had to devise the means. He de- 
vised them — ^an audacious plan; and his task was only 
half done. He had to inspire with his own confidence 
a lot of people who had hidden and absurd reasons to 
hang back; he had to conciliate imbecile jealousies, and 
argue away all sorts of senseless mistrusts. Without 
the weight of Doramin's authority and his son's fiery 
enthusiasm, he would have failed. Dain Waris, the 
distinguished youth, was the first to believe in him; 
theirs was one of those strange, profound, rare friend- 
ships between brown and white, in which the very 
difference of race seems to draw two hunan beings 
closer by some mystic element of sympathy. Of Dain 
Waris, his own people said with pride that he knew how 



to fight like a white man. This was true; he had that 
sort of courage — ^the courage in the open, I may say — 
but he had also a European mind. You meet them 
sometimes like that, and are surprised to discover un- 
expectedly a familiar turn of thought, an unobscured 
vision, a tenacity of purpose, a touch of altruism. Of 
small stature, but admirably well proportioned, Dain 
Waris had a proud carriage, a polished, easy bearing, a 
temperament like a dear flame. His dusky face, with 
big black eyes, was in action expressive, and in repose 
thoughtful. He was of a silent disposition; a firm 
glance, an ironic smile, a courteous deliberation of 
manner seemed to hint at great reserves of intelligence 
and power. Such beings open to the Western eye, so 
often concerned with mere surfaces, the hidden possi- 
bilities of races and lands over which hangs the mystery 
of unrecorded ages. He not only trusted Jim, he under- 
stood him, I firmly believe. I speak of him because he 
had captivated me. His — ^if I may say so — ^his caustic 
placidity, and, at the same time, his intelligent sym- 
pathy with Jim's aspirations, appealed to me. I 
seemed to behold the very origin of friendship. If Jim 

H^look the lead, the other had captivated his leader. In 
I I fact, Jim-the^leader was a^capt ivc in e veryTSense. The 
^ I land, the people, the friendship, the love, were like the 
"^ [jealous guardians of his body. Every day added a link 
to the fetters of that strange freedom. I felt convinced 
of it, as from day to day I learned more of the story. 

"The story! Haven't I heard the story? Fve 
heard it on the march, in camp (he made me scour the 
country after invisible game); I've listened to a good 
part of it on one of the twin summits, after climbing the 
last hundred feet or so on my hands and knees. Our 
escort (we had volunteer followers from village to 
village) had camped meantime on a bit of level ground 

LORD JIM jees 

half-way up the slope, and in the still breathless evening 
the smdl of wood-smoke reached our nostrils from be- 
low with the penetrating delicacy of some choice scent. 
Voices also ascended, wonderful in their distinct and 
immaterial deamess. Jim sat on the trunk of a felled 
tree, and pulling out his pipe b^an to smoke. A new 
growth of grass and bushes was springing up; there 
were traces of an earthwork under a mass of thorny 
twigs. *It all started from here,' he said, after a long 
and meditative silence. On the other hill, two hun- 
dred yards across a sombre precipice, I saw a line of 
high blackened stakes, showing here and there ruin- 
ously — ^the renmants of Sherif Ali's impregnable camp. 
^^But it had been taken though. That had been 
his idea. He had mounted Doramin's old ordnance 
on the top of that hill; two rusty iron 7-pounders, a 
lot of small brass cannon — currency cannon. But if the 
brass guns represent wealth, they can also, when 
crammed recklessly to the muzzle, send a solid shot to 
some little distance. The thing was to get them up 
there. He showed me where he had fastened the cables, 
explained how he had improvised a rude capstan out 
of a hollowed log turning upon a pointed stake, indi- 
cated with the bowl of his pipe the outline of the earth- 
work. The last hundred feet of the ascent had been 
the most difficult. He had made himself responsible 
for success on his own head. He had induced the war 
party to work hard all night. Big fires lighted at inter- 
vals blazed all down the slope, ^but up here,' he ex- 
plained, *the hoisting gang had to fly around in the 
dark.' From the top he saw men moving on the hill- 
side like ants at work. He himself on that night had 
kept on rushing down and climbing up like a squirrel, 
directing, encouraging, watching all along the line. 
Old Doramin had himself carried up the hill in his arm- 


chair. They put him down on the level place upon the 

slope, and he sat there in the light of one of the big 

fir^-^'^iSDazing old chap — ^real old chieftain/ said Jim» 

ip- '^'witn his little fierce eyes — a pair of immense flintlock 

2 pistols on his knees. Magnificent things, ebony, 

silver-mounted, with beautiful locks and a calibre like 

an old blunderbuss. A present from Stein, it seems — 

in exchange for that ring, you know. Used to belong 

to good old M'Neil. God only knows how he came by 

them. There he sat, moving neither hand nor foot, a 

flame of dry brushwood behind him, and lots of people 

rushing about, shouting and pulling round him — ^the 

most solemn, imposing old chap you can imagine. He 

wouldn't have had much chance if Sherif Ali had let his 

infernal crew loose at us and stampeded my lot. Eh? 

Anyhow, he had come up there to die if anything went 

I wrong. No mistake! Jove! It thrilled me to see 

^ him there — ^like a rock. But the Sherif must have 

Jr )^ I thought us mad, and never troubled to come and see 
JT how we got on. Nobody believed it could be done. 

iJS^jA Why! I think the very chaps who pulled and shoved and 
sweated over it did not believe it could Jbe done! Upon 
/ my word I don't think they did. . . .' 

"He stood erect, the smouldering brier-wood in his 
clutch, with a smile on his lips and a sparkle in his 
boyish eyes. I sat on the stump of a tree at his feet, 
and below us stretched the land, the great expanse of 
the forests, sombre under the sunshine, rolling like a sea, 
with glints of winding rivers, the grey spots of villages, 
and here and there a clearing, like an islet of light 
amongst the dark waves of continuous tree-tops. A 
brooding gloom lay over this^.vast and monotonous 
landscape; the light fell on it5^ if into an abyss. The 
land devoured the sunshine; only far off, along the 
coast, the empty ocean, smooth and polished within 


LORD JBf 265 

the faint haze, seemed to rise up to the sky in a wall 

of steel. 

"And there I wa^ with him, high in the sunshine on 
the top of that historic hill of his. .. He domin ated t he 
forest, the secular gloom, ^;ttie^ old 'AanElE^XH^ was 
like a figure set lip^ofi a pSEtSSHflTTSTPepFesent in his^ 
p^sistent youth thepow^, and perhaps the virtues, of 
faces that never grow old^ tbat^hayei emerged from the 
gloom. I don't know why he should always have ap- i 
peared to me symboKc. Perhaps this is the real cause ^^ 
of my interest in his fate. I don't know whether it was \^\f 
exactly fair to him to remember the incident which had 
given a new direction to his life, but at that very mo- 
ment I remembered very distinctly. It was like a 
shadow in the light." 



''Albbadt the legend had gifted him with super- 
natural powers. Yes, it was said, there had been many 
ropes cunningly disposed, and a strange contrivance 
that turned by the efforts of many men, and each gun 
went up tearing slowly through the bushes, like a wild 
pig rooting its way in the imdergrowth, but . . • 
and the wisest shook their heads. There was some- 
thing occult in all this, no doubt; for what is the strength 
' of ropes and of men's arms? There is a rebellious soul 
in things which must be overcome by powerful charms 
I and incantations. Thus old Sura — a very respectable 
householder of Fatusan — ^with whom I had a quiet chat 
one evening. However, Sura was a professional sorcerer 
also, who attended all the rice sowings and reapings for 
miles aroimd for the purpose of subduing the stubborn 
soul of things. This occupation he seemed to think a 
most arduous one, and perhaps the souls of things are 
more stubborn than the souls of men. As to the simple 
folk of outlying villages, they believed and said (as the 
most natural thing in the world) that Jim had carried 
the guns up the hill on his back — ^two at a time. 

^'This would make Jim stamp his foot in vexation 
and exclaim with an exasperated Uttle laugh, ^What 
can you do with such silly beggars? They will sit up 
half the night talking bally rot, and the greater the lie 
the more they seem to like it.' You could trace the 
subtle influence of his surroundings in this irritation. 
It was part of his captivity. The earnestness of his 
denials was amusing, and at last I said, 'My dear 



fellow, you don't suppose / believe this/ He looked at 
me quite startled. ^Well, no! I suppose not/ he said, 
and burst into a Homeric peal of laughter. 'Well, 
anyhow the guns were there, and went oflF together at 
sunrise. Jove! You should have seen the splinters 
fly,' he cried. By his side Dain Waris, listening with 
a quiet smile, dropped his eyelids and shuffled his feet a 
little. It appears that the success in mounting the 
guns had given Jim's people such a feeling of confidence 
that he ventured to leave the battery under charge of 
two elderly Bugis who had seen some fighting in their 
day, and went to join Dain Wans and the storming 
party who were concealed in the ravine. In the small 
hours they began creeping up, and when two-thirds of 
the way up, lay in the wet grass waiting for the appear- 
ance of the sun, which was the agreed signal. He told 
me with what impatient anguishing emotion he watched 
the swift coming of the dawn; how, heated with the 
work and the climbing, he felt the cold dew chilling his 
very bones; how afraid he wa^ he would begin to shiver 
and shake like a leaf before the time came for the ad- 
vance. *It was the slowest half -hour in my life,' he 
declared. Gradually the silent stockade came out on 
the sky above him. Men scattered all down the slope 
were crouching amongst the dark stones and dripping 
bushes. Dain Waris was lying flattened by his side. 
'We looked at each other,' Jim said, resting a gentle 
hand on his friend's shoulder. 'He smiled at me as 
cheery as you please, and I dared not stir my lips for 
fear I would break out into a shivering fit. Ton my 
word, it's true! I had been streaming with perspiration 
when we took cover — so you may imagine . . / 
( He^declared, and I believe him, that he had no fears as 
to the result. He was only anxious aiToiri s ability to 
repress these shivers. He didn't bother about the 


268 LORD JBf 

result. He was bound to get to the top of that hill and 
stay there, whatever might happen. There could be no 
going back for him. Those people had trusted him 
implicitly. Him alone! His bare word. ... .' 

'*I remember how, at this point, he paused with his 
eyes fixed upon me. ^ As far as he knew, they never had 
an occasion to regret it yet,* he said. * Never. He 
hoped to God they never would. Meantime — ^worse 
luck! — ^they had got into the habit of taking his word 
for anything and everything. I could have no idea! 
Why? Only the other day an old fool he had never 
seen in his life came from some village miles away to 
find out if he should divorce his wife. Fact. Solemn 
word. That's the sort of thing. ... He wouldn't 
have believed it. Would I? Squatted on the verandah 
chewing betel-nut, sighing and spitting all over the 
place for more than an hour, and as glum as an under- 
taker before he came out with that dashed conundrum. 
That's the kind of thing that isn't so funny as it looks. 
What was a fellow to say? — Good wife? — ^Yes. Good 
wife — old though; started a confounded long story 
about some brass pots. Been living together for 
fifteen years — twenty years — could not tell. A long, 
long time. Good wife. Beat her a little — ^not much — 
just a little, when she was young. Had to — ^for the 
sake of his honour. Suddenly in her old age she goes 
and lends three brass pots to her sister's son's wife, and 
begins to abuse him every day in a loud voice. His 
enemies jeered at him; his face was utterly blackened. 
Pots totally lost. Awfully cut up about it. Impossible 
to fathom a story like that; told him to go home, and 
promised to come along myself and settle it all. It's 
all very well to grin, but it was the dashedest nuisance! 
A day's journey through the forest, another day lost in 
coaxing a lot of silly villagers to get at the rights of the 

LORD JBi 269 

affair. There was the making of a sanguinary shindy 
in the thing. Every bally idiot took sides with one 
family or the other, and one half of the village was 
ready to go for the other half with anything that came 
handy. Honour bright! No joke! . . . Instead 
of attending to their bally crops. Got him the infernal 
pots back of course — ^arid pacified all hands. No trouble 
to settle it. Of course not. Could settle the deadliest 
quarrel in the country by crooking his little finger. 
The trouble was to get at the truth of anything. Was 
not sure to this day whether he had been fair to all 
parties. It worried him. And the talk! Jove! There 
didn't seem to be any head or tail to it. Rather storm a 
twenty-foot-high old stockade any day. Much! Child's 
play to that other job. Wouldn't take so long either. 
Well, yes; a funny set out, upon the whole — the fool 
looked old enough to be his grandfather. But from 
another point of view it was no joke. His word dcs 
cided everything — ever since the smashing of Sherif Ali. 
An awful responsibility,' he repeated. *No, really- 
joking apart, had it been three lives instead of three 
rotten brass pots it would have been the same. . . .' 

"Thus he illustrated the moral effect of his victo^ >^ 
in war. It wa^ in truth immense. It had led him f rom^ 
strife to peace, and through death into the innermost ' 
life of the people; but the gloom of the land spread out 
under the sunshine preserved its appearance of in- 
scrutable, of secular repose. The sound of his fresh 
yoimg voice — ^it's extraordinary how very few signs of 
wear he showed — ^floated lightly, and passed away over 
the imchanged face of the forests like the sound of the 
big gims on that cold dewy morning when he had no 
other concern on earth but the proper control of the 
chills in his body. With the first slant of sun-rays 
along these immovable tree-tops the summit of one hill 


wreathed itself » with heavy reports, in white clouds of 
smoke, and the other burst into an amazing noise of 
yells, war-cries, shouts of anger, of surprise, of dismay. 
Jim and Dain Waris were the first to lay their hands on 
the stakes. The popular story has it that Jim with a 
touch of one finger had thrown down the gate. He was, 
of course, anxious to disclaim this achievement. The 
whole stockade — ^he would insist on explaining to you — 
was a poor affair (Sherif Ali trusted mainly to the in- 
accessible position); and, anyway, the thing had been 
already knocked to pieces and only hung together by a 
miracle. He put his shoulder to it like a little fool and 
went in head over heels. Jove! If it hadn't been for 
Dain Wans, a pock-marked tattooed vagabond would 
have pinned him with his spear to a baulk of timber 
like one of Stein's beetles. The third man in, it seems, 
had been Tamb' Itam, Jim's own servant. This was a 
Malay from the north, a stranger who had wandered 
into Fatusan, and had been forcibly detained by Rajali 
Allang as paddler of one of the state boats. He had 
made a bolt of it at the first opportunity, and fionding a 
precarious refuge (but very little to eat) amongst the 
Bugis settlers, had attached himself to Jim's person. 
His complexion was very dark, his face flat, his eyes 
prominent and injected with bile. There was some- 
thing excessive, almost fanatical, in his devotion to his 
^ white lord.' He was inseparable from Jim like a 
morose shadow. On state occasions he would tread 
on his master's heels, one hand on the haft of his kris, 
keeping the common people at a distance by his trucu- 
lent brooding glances. Jim had made him the head- 
man of his establishment, and all Fatusan respected and 
courted him as a person of much influence. At the 
taking of the stockade he had distinguished himself 
greatly by the methodical ferocity of his fighting. The 


storming-party had come on so quick — ^Jim said — ^that 
notwithstanding the panic of the garrison, there wa^ a 
*Hot five minutes hand-to-hand inside that stockade, 
till some bally ass set fire to the shelters of boughs and 
dry grass, and we all had to clear out for dear life.' 

*^The rout, it seems, had been completfs. Doramin 
waiting immovably in his chair on the hillside, with 
the smoke of the guns spreading slowly above his big 
head, received the news with a deep grunt. When in- 
formed that his son was safe and leading the pursuit, he, 
without another sound, made a mighty effort to rise; 
his attendants hurried to his help, and, held up rever- 
ently, he shuffled with great dignity into a bit of shade 
where he laid himself down to sleep covered entirely 
with a piece of white sheeting. In Fatusan the ex- 
citement was intense. Jim told me that from the hill, 
turning his back on the stockade with its embers, black 
ashes, and half-consumed corpses, he could see time 
after time the open spaces between the houses on both 
sides of the stream fill suddenly with a seething rush of 
people and get empty in a moment. His ears caught 
feebly from below the tremendous din of gongs and 
drums; the wild shouts of the crowd reached him in 
bursts of faint roaring. A lot of streamers made a 
flutter as of little white, red, yellow birds amongst the 
brown ridges of roofs. *You must have enjoyed it,* I 
murmured, feeling the stir of sympathetic emotion. 

"*It was ... it was immense! Immense!' he 
cried aloud, flinging his arms open. The sudden 
movement startled me as though I had seen him bare 
the secrets of his breast to the sunshine, to the brooding 
forests, to the steely sea. Below us the town reposed 
in easy curves upon the banks of a stream whose cur- 
rent seemed to sleep. * Immense!' he repeated for a 
third time, speaking in a whisper, for himself alone. 



*^ Immense! No doubt it was immense; the seal of 
success upon his words, the conquered ground for the 
soles of his feet, the blind trust of men, the belief in him- 
self snatched from tEe flTfi, the solitude of his achieve- 
lent. All this, as I've warned you, gets dwarfed in the 
tiling. I can't with mere words convey to you the 
impression of his total and utter isolation. I know, of 
course, he was in every sense alone of his kind there, but 
the unsuspected quaUties of his nature had brought him 
in such close touch with his surroundings that this 
isolation seemed only the effect of his power. His 
loneliness added to his stature. There was nothing 
within sight to compare him with, as though he had 
been one of those exceptional men who can be only 
measured by the greatness of their fame; and his fame, 
remember, was the greatest thing around for many a 
day's journey. You would have to paddle, pole, or 
track a long weary way through the jungle before you 
passed beyond the reach of its voice. Its voice was not 
the trumpeting^ of the disreputable goddess we all 
_know — ^not blatant — ^not brazen. It took its tone from 
the stillness and gloom of the land without a past, where 
his word was the one truth of every passing day. It 
shared something of the nature of that silence through 
which it accompanied you into unexplored depths, 
heard continuously by your side, penetrating, far- 
reaching — tinged with wonder and mystery on iJie lips 
of whispering men." 



The defeated Sherif Ali fled the country without 
making another stand, and when the miserable himted 
villagers began to crawl out of the jimgle back to their 
rotting houses, it was Jim who, in consultation with .^ 
Dain Waris, appointed the headmen. Thus he be- ] 

came the virtual r uler of tiie land. As to old Tunkii ^ 
Allang, his fears at fir^t had known no bounds. It is 
said that at the intelligence of the successful storming 
of the hill he flung himself, face down, on the bamboo 
floor of his audience-hall, and lay motionless for a 
whole night and a whole day, uttering stifled soimds of 
such an appalling nature that no man dared approach 
his prostrate form nearer than a spear's length. Al- 
ready he could see himself driven ignominiously out of 
Fatusan, wandering abandoned, stripped, without opi- 
um, without his women, without followers, a fair game 
for the first comer to kill. After Sherif Ali his turn 
would come, and who could resist an attack led by 
such a devil? And indeed he owed his life and such 
authority as he still possessed at the time of my visit to 
Jim's idea of what was fair alone. The Bugis had 
been extremely anxious to pay oflf old scores, and the 
impassive old Doramin cherished the hope of yet see- 
ing his son ruler of Fatusan. During one of our inter- 
views he deliberately allowed me to get a glimpse of 
this secret ambition. Nothing could be finer in its way 
than the dignified wariness of his approaches. He 
himself — ^he began by declaring — ^had used his strength 
in his young days, but now he had grown old and 




tired. . . . With his imposing bulk and hau^^ty 
little eyes darting sagacious^ inquisitive glances, he re- 
minded one irresistibly of a cunning old elephant; the 
slow rise and fall of his vast breast went on powerful and 
r^ular, like the heave of a calm sea. He, too, as he 
protested, had an imboimded confidence in Tuan Jim's 
wisdom. If he could only obtain a promise ! One word 
would be enough! . . . His breathing silences, the 
low rumblings of his voice, recalled the last efforts of a 
spent thunderstorm. 

*'I tried to put the subject aside. It was di£Scult, 
for there could be no question that Jim had the power; 
in his new sphere there did not seem to be anything that 
was not his to hold or to give. But that, I repeat, was 
nothing in comparison with the notion, which occurred 
to me, while I listened with a show of attention, that he 
seemed to have come very near at last to mastering his 
fate. Doramin was anxious about the future of the 
country, and I was struck by the turn he gave to the 
argument. The land remains where God had put it; 
but white men — he said — they come to us and m a 
little while they go. They go away. Those they leave 
behind do not know when to look for their return. 
They go to their own land, to their people, and so this 
white man, too, would. ... I don't know what in- 
duced me to commit myself at this point by a vigorous 
*No, no.' The whole extent of this indiscretion be- 
came apparent when Doramin, turning full upon me 
his face, whose expression, fixed in rugged deep folds, 
remained unalterable, like a huge brown mask, said 
that this was good news indeed, reflectively; and then 
wanted to know why. 

**His little, motherly witch of a wife sat on my other 
hand, with her head covered and her feet tucked up, 
gazing through the great shutter-hole. I could only 

LORD JBi 275 

see a straying lock of grey hair, a high cheek-bone, the 
slight masticating motion of the sharp chin. Without 
removing her eyes from the vast prospect of forests 
stretching as far as the hills, she asked me in a pitying 
voice why was it that he so young had wandered from 
his home, coming so far, through so many dangers? 
Had he no household there, no kinsmen in his own coun- 
try? Had he no old mother, who would always re- ^ 
member his face? • . • 

''I was completely unprepared for this. I could only 
mutter and shake my head vaguely. Afterwards I 
am perfectly aware I cut a very poor figure trying to 
extricate myself out of this difficulty. From that mo- 
ment, however, the old nakhoda became taciturn. He 
was not very pleased, I fear, and evidently I had given 
him food for thought. Strangely enough, on the even- V 

brings me to the f,\j^ry o'[\^^^^ ^' ' J 

^'I suppose you think it is a story that you can 
imagine for yourselves. We have heard so many such 
stories, and the majority of us don't believe them to be 
stories of love at all. For the most part we look upon 
them as stories of opportunities: episodes of passion at 
best, or perhaps only of youth and temptation, doomed 
to forgetf ulness in the end, even if they pass through the 
reality of tenderness and regret. This view mostly is 
right, and perhaps in this case, too. • • • Yet I 
don't know. To tell this story is by no means so easy 
as it should be — ^were the ordinary standpoint adequate. 
Apparently it is a story very much like the others: for 
me, however, there is visible in its backgroimd the 
melancholy figure of a woman, the shadow of a cruel 
wisdom buried in a lonely grave, looking on wistfully. 


helplessly, with sealed lips. The grave itself, as I came 
^^tipon it during an early morning stroll, was a rather 
shapeless brown mound, with an inlaid neat border of 
white lumps of coral at the base, and enclosed within a 
circular fence made of split saplings, with the bark left 
on. A garland of leaves and flowers was woven about 
the heads of the slender posts — and the flowers were 

"Thus, whether the shadow is of my imagination 
or not, I can at all events point out the significant fact 
of an imf orgotten grave. When I tell you besides that 
Jim with his own hands had worked at the rustic fence, 
you will perceive directly the difference, the individual 
side of the story. There is in his espousal of memory 
and affection belonging to another human being some- 
thing characteristic of his seriousness. He had a con- 
science, and it was a romantic conscience. Through 
her whole life the wife of the imspeakable ComeUus had 
no other companion, confidante, and friend but her 
daughter. How the poor woman had come to marry the 
awful Malacca Portuguese — ^after the separation from 
the father of her girl — and how that separation had been 
brought about, whether by death, which can be some- 
times merciful, or by the merciless pressiure of conven- 
tions, is a mystery to me. From the little which Stein 
(who knew so many stories) had let drop in my hearing, 
I am convinced that she was no ordinary woman. Her 
own father had been a white; a high official; one of the 
brilliantly endowed men who are not dull enough to 
nurse a success, and whose careers so often end under 
a cloud. I suppose she, too, must have lacked the 
saving dullness — ^and her career ended in Fatusan. 
Our common fate . . . for where is the man — ^I 
mean a real sentient man — ^who does not remember 
vaguely having hpen jdesefted in the fullness of pos- 

\ \^ ,j*^"\ 


session by some one or something more precious than 
life? . . . our common fate fastens upon the women ^ 
with a peculiar cruelty. It does not punish like "a 
master, but inflicts lingering torment, as if to gratify a 
secret, unappeasable spite. One would think that, 
appointed to rule on earth, it seeks to revenge itself 
upon the beings that come nearest to rising above the 
trammels of earthly caution; f or it is only women_w Kq X 
manage to put at times into their love an elementlu st / * 
pal ggMT^SlyE to give one a f right-an extra-tm ^ea^ V' 
t rial touch. I ask myself with wonder — ^how the world 
can look to them — ^whether it has the shape and sub- 
stance we know, the air toe breathe ! Sometimes I fancy 
it must be a region of unreasonable sublimities seething 
with the excitement of their adventurous souls, lighted 
by the glory of all possible risks and renunciations. 
However/I suspect there are very few wo] 
world, though of course I am aware of the multitudes of 
mankind and of t.lig_P!fliiftlity of ftfty^a in point nf niim- 
JbfiraT-that is.^But I am sure that the mother was as 
much of a woman as the daughter seemed to be. (I 
cannot help picturing to myself these two, at first the 
young woman an^ ti^e child, thfiarJlie old woman and 

the young gir^lh^ awful jggmfiOiM&iAAd the swift passage 
of time, the bafrifer of forest, the soUtude and the tur- 
moil round these two lonely lives, and every word 
spoken between them penetrated with sad meaning. 
There must have been confidences, not so much of fact, 
I suppose, as of innermost feelings — ^regrets — ^fears — 
warnings, no doubt : warnings that the younger did not 
fully imderstand till the elder was dead — ^and Jim came 
along. Then I am sure she imderstood much — ^not 
everything — ^the fear mostly, it seems. Jim called her 
by a word that means precious, in the sense of a precious 
gem — ^jewel. Pretty, isn't it? But he was capable of 

3''" « f- 



k i 

J ^ \ . -., ^ . .. ^ ;. ~\ 


anything. He was equal to his fortune, as he — ^after 
all — ^must have been equal to his misfortune. Jewel he 
called her; and he would say this as he might have said 
*Jane/ don't you know — with a marital, homelike, 
peaceful effect. I heard the name for the first time ten 
minutes after I had landed in his courtyard, when, after 
nearly shaking my arm off, he darted up the steps and 
began to make a joyous, boyish disturbance at the door 
under the heavy eaves. 'Jewel! O Jewel! Quick! 
Here's a friend come,' • • . and suddenly peering 
at me in the dim verandah, he mumbled earnestly, 
*You know — ^this — ^no confounded nonsense about it — 
can't tell you how much I owe to her — and so — ^you 
understand — ^I — exactly as if • • .' His hurried, 
anxious whispers were cut short by the flitting of a white 
form within the house, a faint exclamation, and a child- 
like but energetic little face with deUcate features and a 
profound, attentive glance peeped out of the inner 
gloom, like a bird out of the recess of a nest. I was 
struck by the name, of course; but it was not till later 
on that I connected it with an astonishing rumour that 
had met me on my journey, at a little place on the coast 
about 230 miles south of Fatusan river. Stein's 
schooner, in which I had my passage, put in there, 
to collect some produce, and going ashore, I found to 
my great surprise that the wretched locaKty could 
boast of a third-class deputy-assistant resident, a big, 
fat, greasy, blinking fellow of mixed descent, with 
turned-out, shiny lips. I found him lying extended on 
his back in a cane chair, odiously imbuttoned, with a 
large green leaf of some sort on the top of his steaming 
head, and another in his hand which he used lazily as a 
fan. . . . Going to Patusan? Oh, yes. Stein's 
Trading Company. He knew. Had a permission? 
No business of his. It was not so bad there now, he 


remarked negligently, and, he went on drawling, 
* There's some sort of white vagabond has got in there, 
I hear. . • • Eh? What you say? Friend of 
yours? So! . . . Then it was true there was one 
of these verdanUe — ^What was he up to? Found his way 
in, the rascal. Eh? I had not been sure. Patusan — 
they cut throats there — no business of ours.* He 
interrupted himself to groan. 'Phoo! Almighty! 
The heat! The heat! Well, then, there might be 
something in the story, too, after all, and • . / He 
shut one of his beastly glassy eyes (the eyelid went on 
quivering), while he leered at me atrociously with the 
other. *Look here,* says he, mysteriously, *if — do you 
understand? — ^if he has really got hold of something 
fairly good — ^none of your bits of green glass — ^under- 
stand? — ^I am a government official — ^you tell the ras- 
cal .. . Eh? What? Friend of yours?* . . . 
He continued wallowing cahnly in the chair. . . . 
^ You said so; that's just it; and I am pleased to give you 
the hint. I suppose you, too, would like to get some- 
thing out of it? Don't interrupt. You just tell him 
I've heard the tale, but to my government I have made 
no report. Not yet. See? Why make a report? Eh? 
Tell him to come to me if they let him get alive out of 
the country. He had better look out for himself. Eh? 
I promise to ask no questions. On the quiet — ^you 
understand? You, too — ^you shall get something from 
me. Small commission for the trouble. Don't inter- 
rupt. I am a government official, and make no report. 
That's business. Understand? I know some good 
people that will buy anything worth having, and can 
give him more money than the scoundrel ever saw in his 
life. I know his sort/ He fixed me steadfastly with 
both his eyes open, while I stood over him utterly 
amazed, and asking myself whether he was mad or 


drunk. He perspired, puffed, moaning feebly, and 
scratching himself with such horrible composure that I 
could not bear the sight long enough to find out. Next 
day, talking casually with the people of the little native 
court of the place, I discovered that a story was travel- 
ling slowly down the coast about a mysterious white 
man in Patusan who had got hold of an extraordinary 
gem — ^namely, an emerald of an enormous size, and 
altogether priceless. The emerald seems to appeal 
more to the Eastern imagination than any other pre- 
cious stone. The white man had obtained it, I was told, 
partly by the exercise of his wonderful strength and 
partly by cunning, from the ruler of a distant country, 
whence he had fled instantly, arriving in Patusan in 
utmost distress, but frightening the people by his ex- 
treme ferocity, which nothing seemed able to subdue. 
Most of my informants were of the opinion that the 
stone was probably unlucky, — ^like the famous stone of 
the Sultan of Succadana, which in the old times had 
brought wars and untold calamities upon that country. 
Perhaps it was the same stone — one couldn't say. In- 
deed the story of a fabulously large emerald is as old as 
the arrival of the first white men in the Archipelago; 
and the belief in it is so persistent that less than forty 
years ago there had been an official Dutch inquiry 
into the truth of it. Such a jewel — ^it was explained to 
me by the old fellow from whom I heard most of this 
amazing Ji m^my th — a sort of scribe- to the wretched 
little Rajah of the place; — ^such a jewel, he said, cock- 
ing his poor purblind eyes up at me (he was sitting on 
the cabin floor out of respect), is best preserved by 
being concealed about the person of a woman. Yet it 
is not every woman that would do. She must be 
young — ^he sighed deeply — and insensible to the se- 
ductions of love. He shook his head sceptically. But 


such a woman seemed to be actually in existence. He 
had been told of a tall girl, whom the white man treated 
with great respect and care, and who never went forth 
from the house unattended. People said the white 
man could be seen with her almost any day; they 
walked side by side, openly, he holding her arm under 
his— pressed to his side-thus— in a most extraordinary 
way. This might be a lie, he conceded, for it was in- 
deed a strange thing for any one to do: on the other 
hand, there could be no doubt she wore the white man's 
jewel concealed upon her bosom." 


"This was the theory of Jun's marital evening walks. 
I made a third on more than one occasion, unpleas- 
antly aware every time of Cornelius, who nursed the 
aggrieved sense of his legal paternity, slinking in the 
neighbourhood with that peculiar twist of his mouth 
as if he were perpetually on the point of gnashing his 
teeth. But do you notice how, three hundred miles 
beyond the end of telegraph cables and mail-boat lines, 
the haggard utilitarian lies of our civilisation wither and 
die, to be replaced by pure exercises of imagination, 
that have the futility, often the charm, and sometimes 
the deep hidden truthfulness, of works of art? Ro- 
mance had singled Jim for its own — ^and that was the 
true part of the story, which otherwise was all wrong. 
He did not hide his jewel. In fact, he was extremely 
proud of it. 

"It comes to me now that I had, on the whole, seen 
very little of her. What I remember best is the even, 
olive pallor of her complexion, and the intense blue- 
black gleams of her hair, flowing abundantly from imder 
a small crimson cap she wore far back on her shapely 
head. Her movements were free, assured, and she 
blushed a dusky red. While Jim and I were talking, 
she would come and go with rapid glances at us, leaving 
on her passage an impression of grace and charm and a 
distinct suggestion of watchfulness. Her manner pre- 
sented a curious combination of shyness and audacity. 
Every pretty smile was succeeded swiftly by a look of 
silent, repressed anxiety, as if put to flight by the 



recollection of some abiding danger. At times she 
would sit down with us and, with her soft cheek dimpled 
by the knuckles of her little hand, she would listen to our 
talk; her big clear eyes would remain fastened on our 
lips, as though each pronounced word had a visible 
shape. Her mother had taught her to read and write; 
she had learned a good bit of EngUsh from Jim, and she 
spoke it most amusingly, with his own clipping, boyish 
intonation. Her tenderness hovered over him Kke a A 
flutter of wings. She lived so completely in his con- 
templation that she had acquired something of his out* 
ward aspect, something that recalled him in her move- 
ments, in the way she stretched her arm, turned her 
head, directed her glances. Her vigilant aflfection had 
an intensity that made it almost perceptible to the 
senses; it seemed actually to exist in the ambient 
matter of space, to envelop him like a peculiar fra- 
grance, to dwell in the sunshine like a tremulous, sub- 
dued, and impassioned note. I suppose you think that 
I, too, am romantic, but it is a mistake. I am relating 
to you the sober impressions of a bit of youth, of a 
strange uneasy romance that had come in my way. I 
observed with interest the work of his — well — ^good 
fortune. He was jealously loved, but why she should j 
be jealous, and of what, I could not tell. The land, the 
people, the forests were her accomplices, guarding him 
with vigilant accord, with an air of seclusion, of mystery, ^ 
of invincible possession. There was no appeal, as i1 
were; he was imprisoned within the very freedom of his 
power, and she, though ready to make a footstool of 
her head for his feet, guarded her conquest inflexibly — 
as though he were hard to keep. The very Tamb* 
Itam, marching on our journeys upon the heels of his 
white lord, with his head thrown back, truculent and ; .--.f 
be-weaponed like a janissary, with kris, chopper, and --^ -^ 

.1 > ' . » V 

' « I ^ .■■■"* 



lance (besides carrying Jim's gun); even Tamb' Itam 
allowed himself to put on the airs of uncompromising 
guardianship, like a surly devoted jailer ready to lay 
down his life for his captive. On the evenings when 
we sat up late his silent, indistinct form would pass 
and repass under the verandah, with noisdess footsteps, 
or Ef ting my head I would unexpectedly make him out 
standing rigidly erect in the shadow. As a general rule 
he would vanish after a time, without a sound; but 
when we rose he would spring up close to us as if from 
the ground, ready for any orders Jim might wish to 
give. The girl, too, I believe, never went to sleep till we 
had separated for the night. More than once I saw 
her and Jim through the window of my room come out 
together quietly and lean on the rough balustrade — 
two white forms very close, his arm about her waist, her 
head on his shoulder. Their soft murmurs reached me, 
penetrating, tender, with a calm sad note in the stillness 
of the night, like a self-communion of one being carried 
on in two tones. Later on, tossing on my bed under the 
mosquito-net, I was sure to hear slight creakings, faint 
breathing, a throat cleared cautiously — and I would 
know that Tamb' Itam was still on the prowl. Though 
he had (by the favour of the white lord) a house in the 
compoimd, had * taken wife,* and had lately been blessed 
with a child, I believe that, during my stay at all events, 
he slept on the verandah every night. It was very dif- 
ficult to make this faithful and grim retainer talk. 
Even Jim himself was answered in jerky short sentences, 
under protest as it were. Talking, he seemed to imply, 
was no business of his. The longest speech I heard him 
volunteer was one morning when, suddenly extending 
his hand towards the courtyard, he pointed at Cornelius 
and said, *Here comes the Nazarene.' I don't think he 
was addressing me, though I stood at his side; his object 


seemed rather to awaken the indignant attention of the 
universe. Some muttered allusions, which followed, to 
dogs and the smell of roast-meat, struck me as singularly 
felicitous. The courtyard, a large square space, was 
one torrid blaze of sunshine, and, bathed in intense 
light, Cornelius was creeping across in full view with 
an inexpressible effect of stealthiness, of dark and secret 
slinking. He reminded one of everything that is un- 
savoury. His slow laborious walk resembled the creep- 
ing of a repulsive beetle, the legs alone moving with 
horrid industry while the body glided evenly. I sup- 
pose he made straight enough for the place where he 
wanted to get to, but his progress with one shoulder 
carried forward seemed oblique. He was often seen 
circling slowly amongst the sheds, as if following a scent; 
passing before the verandah with upward stealthy 
glances ; disappearing without haste round the comer of 
some hut. That he seemed free of the place demon- 
strated Jim's absurd carelessness or else his infinite dis- 
dain, for Cornelius had played a very dubious part (to 
say the least of it) in a certain episode which might have 
ended fatally for Jim. As a matter of fact, it had re- 
dounded to hi§L^lory. But everything redounded to 
his glory uini^t was the irony of his good fortune that 
he, who had been too careful of it once, seemed to bear a 
charmed life. 

"You must know he had left Doramin's place very 
soon after his arrival — ^much too soon, in fact, for his 
eafety, and of course a long time before the war. In 
this he was actuated by a sense of duty; he had to look 
after Stein's business, he said. Hadn't he? To that 
end, with an utter disregard of his personal safety, he 
crossed the river and took up his quarters with Cor- 
nelius. How the latter had managed to exist through 
the troubled times I can't say. As Stein's agent, after 



all, he must have had Doramm's protection in a meas- 
ure; and in one way or another he had managed to 
wriggle through all the deadly complications, while I 
have no doubt that his conduct, whatever line he was 
forced to take, was marked by that abjectness which 
was like the stamp of the man. That was his charac- 
teristic; he was fundamentally and outwardly abject, as 

r / other men are markedly of a generous, distinguished, or 
y venerable appearance. It was the element of his 

Ni^ nature which permeated all his acts and passions and 
emotions; he raged abjectly, smiled abjectly, was 
abjectly sad; his civilities and his indignations were 
alike abject. I am sure his love would have been the 
most abject of sentiments — ^but can one imagine a 
loathsome insect in love? And his loathsomeness, too, 
was abject, so that a simply disgusting person would 
have appeared noble by his side. He has his place 
neither in the background nor in the foreground of the 
story; he is simply seen skulking on its outskirts, enig- 
matical and unclean, tainting the fragrance of its youth 
and of its nalveness. 

"His position in any case could not have been other 
than extremely miserable, yet it may very well be that 
he found some advantages in it. Jim told me he had 
been received at first with an abject display of the most 
amicable sentiments. *The fellow apparently couldn't 
contain himself for joy,' said Jim with disgust. *He 
flew at me every morning to shake both my hands — con- 
found him ! but I could never tell whether there would 
be any breakfast. If I got three meals in two days I 
considered myself jolly lucky, and he made me sign a 
chit for ten dollars every week. Said he was sure Mr. 
Stein did not mean him to keep me for nothing. Well — 
he kept me on nothing as near as possible. Put it down 
to the unsettled state of the country, and made as if to 


tear his hair out, begging my pardon twenty times a day, 
so that I had at last to entreat him not to worry. It 
made me sick. Half the roof of his house had fallen in, 
and the whole place had a mangy look, with wisps of 
dry grass sticking out and the corners of broken mats 
flapping on every wall. He did his best to make out 
that Mr. Stein owed him money on the last three years* 
trading, but his books were all torn, and some were 
missing. He tried to hint it was his late wife's fault. 
Disgusting scoundrel! At last I had to forbid him to 
mention his late wife at all. It made Jewel cry. I 
couldn't discover what became of all the trade-goods; 
there was nothing in the store but rats, having a high 
old time amongst a litter of brown paper and old sack- 
ing. I was assured on every hand that he had a lot of 
money buried somewhere, but of course could get noth- 
ing out of him. It was the most miserable existence I 
led there in that wretched house. I tried to do my duty 
by Stein, but I had also other matters to think of. 
When I escaped to Doramin old Tunku Allang got 
frightened and returned all my things. It was done in 
a roundabout way, and with no end of mystery, through 
a Chinaman who keeps a small shop here; but as soon as 
I left the Bugis quarter and went to live with Cor- 
nelius it began to be said openly that the Rajah had 
made up his mind to have me killed before long. Pleas- 
ant, wasn't it? And I couldn't see what there was to 
prevent him if he really had made up his mind. The 
worst of it was, I couldn't help feeling I wasn't doing 
any good either for Stein or for myself. Oh! it was 
beastly — the whole six weeks of it.' " 


''He told me further that he didn't know what made 
hang on — but of course we may guess. He sym- 
pathised deeply with the defenceless giri, at the mercy 
of that 'mean, cowardly scoundrel/ It appears Cor- 
nelius led her an awful life, stopping only short of actual 
ill-usage, for which he had not the pluck, I suppose. 
He insisted upon her calling him father — 'and with 
respect, too — with respect,' he would scream, shaking a 
little yellow fist in her face. 'I am a respectable man, 
and what are you? Tell me — ^what are you? You 
think I am going to bring up somebody else's child and 
not to be treated with respect? You ought to be glad I 
let you. Come — say Yes, father. . . . No? . . . You 
wait a bit.* Thereupon he would begin to abuse the 
dead woman, till the girl would run off with her hands 
to her head. He pursued her, dashing in and out and 
round the house and amongst the sheds, would drive her 
into some comer, where she would fall on her knees 
stopping her ears, and then he would stand at a dis- 
tance and declaim filthy denunciations at her back for 
half an hour at a stretch. 'Your mother was a devil, a 
deceitful devil — and you, too, are a devil,* he would 
shriek in a final outburst, pick up a bit of dry earth or a 
handful of mud (there was plenty of mud around the 
house), and fling it into her hair. Sometimes, though, 
she would hold out full of scorn, confronting him in 
silence, her face sombre and contracted, and only now 
and then uttering a word or two that would make the 
other jump and writhe with the sting. Jim told me 



these scenes were terrible. It was indeed a strange 
thing to come upon in a wilderness. The endlessness of 
such a subtly cruel situation was appalling — ^if you 
think of it. The respectable Cornelius (Inchi 'Nelyus 
the Malays called him, with a grimace that meant many 
things) was a much-disappointed man. I don't know 
what he had expected would be done for him in con- 
sideration of his marriage; but evidently the liberty to 
steal, and embezzle, and appropriate to himself for 
many years and in any way that suited him best, the 
goods of Stein's Trading Company (Stein kept the 
supply up unfalteringly as long as he could get his 
skippers to take it there) did not seem to him a fair 
equivalent for the sacrifice of his honourable name. 
Jim would have enjoyed exceedingly thrashing Cor- 
nelius within an inch of his life; on the other hand, the 
scenes were of so painful a character, so abominable, 
that his impulse would be to get out of earshot, in order 
to spare the girl's feelings. They left her agitated, 
speechless, clutching her bosom now and then with a 
stony, desperate face, and then Jim would lounge up and 
say unhappily, *Now — come — ^really — ^what's the use — 
you must try to eat a bit,' or give some such mark of 
sympathy. Cornelius would keep on slinking through 
the doorways, across the verandah and back again, as 
mute as a fish, and with malevolent, mistrustful, under- 
hand glances. 'I can stop his game,' Jim said to her 
once. *Just say the word.' And do you know what 
she answered? She said — Jim told me impressively — 
that if she had not been sure he was intensely wretched 
himself, she would have found the courage to kill him 
with her own hands. *Just fancy that! The poor 
devil of a girl, almost a child, being driven to talk like 
that,' he exclaimed in horror. It seemed impossible to 
save her not only from that mean rascal but even from 


herself! It wasn't that he pitied her so much, he 
affirmed; it was more than pity; it was as if he had some- 
thing on his conscience, while that life went on. To 
leave the house would have appeared a base desertion. 
He had understood at last that there was nothing to 
expect from a longer stay, neither accounts nor money, 
nor truth of any sort, but he stayed on, exasperating 
Cornelius to the verge, I won't say of insanity, but 
almost of courage. Meantime he felt all sorts of 
dangers gathering obscurely about him. Doramin had 
sent over twice a trusty servant to tell him seriously 
that he could do nothing for his safety unless he would 
recross the river again and live amongst the Bugis as at 
first. People of every condition used to call, often in 
the dead of night, in order to disclose to him plots for 
his assassination. He was to be poisoned. He was to 
be stabbed in the bath-house. Arrangements were 
being made to have him shot from a boat on the river. 
Each of these informants professed himself to be his 
very good friend. It was enough — ^he told me — to 
spoil a fellow's rest for ever. Something of the kind 
was extremely possible — ^nay, probable — ^but the lying 
warnings gave him only the sense of deadly scheming 
going on all around him, on all sides, in the dark. 
Nothing more calculated to shake the best of nerve. 
Finally, one night, Cornelius himself, with a great 
apparatus of alarm and secrecy, unfolded in solemn 
wheedling tones a little plan wherein for one hundred 
dollars — or even for eighty; let's say eighty — ^he, Cor- 
nelius, would procure a trustworthy man to smuggle 
Jim out of the river, all safe. There was nothing else 
for it now — ^if Jim cared a pin for his life. What's 
eighty dollars? A trifle. An insignificant sum. While 
he, Cornelius, who had to remain behind, was absolutely 
courting death by his proof of devotion to Mr. Stein's 



young friend. The sight of his abject grimacing was — 
Jim told me — ^very hard to bear: he clutched at his hair, 
beat his breast, rocked himself to and fro with his hands 
pressed to his stomach, and actually pretended to shed 
tears. * Your blood be on your own head/ he squeaked 
at last, and rushed out. It is a curious question how far 
Cornelius was sincere in that performance. Jim con- 
fessed to me that he did not sleep a wink after the fellow 
had gone. He lay on his back on a thin mat spread 
over the bamboo flooring, trying idly to make out the 
bare rafters, and listening to the rustlings in the torn 
thatch. A star suddenly twinkled through a hole in the 
roof. His brain was in a whirl ; but, nevertheless, it was 
on that very night that he matured his plan for over- 
coming Sherif Ali. It had been the thought of all the 
moments he could spare from the hopeless investigation 
into Stein's affairs, but the notion — ^he says — came to 
him then all at once. He could see, as it were, the guns 
mounted on the top of the hill. He got very hot and 
excited lying there; sleep was out of the question more 
than ever. He jumped up, and went out barefooted on 
the verandah. Walking silently, he came upon the 
girl, motionless against the wall, as if on the watch. 
In his then state of mind it did not surprise him to see 
her up, nor yet to hear her ask in an anxious whisper 
where Cornelius could be. He simply said he did not 
know. She moaned a little, and peered into the 
campong. Everything was very quiet. He was pos- 
sessed by his new idea, and so full of it that he could not 
help telling the girl all about it at once. She listened, 
clapped her hands lightly, whispered softly her ad- 
miration, but was evidently on the alert all the time. 
It seems he had been used to make a confidante of her 
all along — and that she on her part could and did give 
him a lot of useful hints as to Fatusan affairs there is no 



doubt. He assured me more than once that he had 
never found himself the worse for her advice. At any 
rate, he was proceeding to explain his plan fully to her 
there and then, when she pressed his arm once, and 
vanished from his side. Then Cornelius appeared from 
somewhere, and, perceiving Jim, ducked sideways, as 
though he had been shot at, and afterwards stood very 
still in the dusk. At last he came forward prudently, 
like a suspicious cat. 'There were some fishermen 
there — with fish,* he said in a shaky voice. *To sell 
fish — ^you understand.' ... It must have been 
then two o'clock in the morning — ^a likely time for any- 
body to hawk fish about! 

""Jim, however, let the statement pass, and did not 
give it a single thought. Other matters occupied his 
mind, and besides he had neither seen nor heard any- 
thing. He contented himself by saying, * Oh ! ' absently, 
got a drink of water out of a pitcher standing there, and 
leaving Cornelius a prey to some inexplicable emotion — 
that made him embrace with both arms the worm-eaten 
rail of the verandah as if his legs had failed — went in 
again and lay down on his mat to think. By-and-by 
he heard stealthy footsteps. They stopped. A voice 
whispered tremulously through the wall, *Are you 
asleep?' *No! What is it?' he answered, briskly, and 
there was an abrupt movement outside, and then all 
was still, as if the whisperer had been startled. Ex- 
tremely annoyed at this, Jim came out impetuously, 
and Cornelius with a faint shriek fled along the verandah 
as far as the steps, where he hung on to the broken 
banister. Very puzzled, Jim called out to him from 
the distance to know what the devil he meant. *Have 
you given your consideration to what I spoke to you 
about?' asked Cornelius, pronouncing the words with 
diflSculty, like a man in the cold fit of a fever. *No!* 


shouted Jim in a passion. *I did not, and I don't in- 
tend to. I am going to live here, in Patusan.' *You 
shall d-d-die h-h-here/ answered Cornelius, still shaking 
violently, and in a sort of expiring voice. The whole 
performance was so absurd and provoking that Jim 
didn't know whether he ought to be amused or angry. 
*Not till I have seen you tucked away, you bet,' he 
called out, exasperated yet ready to laugh. Half 
seriously (being excited with his own thoughts, you 

know) he went on shouting, * Nothing can touch mej 

Yqu can do your damnedest.' Somehow the shadowy >/ . 
/Cornelius far off there seemed to be the hateful em- 7 ^ s 
/ bodiment of all the annoyances and difficulties he had^/ ^ 
/ found in his path. He let himself go — ^his nerves had (^^ 
^-'^een over-wrought for days — ^and called him many 
pretty names, — swindler, liar, sorry rascal: in fact, 
carried on in an extraordinary way. He admits he 
passed all bounds, that he was quite beside himself — 
defied all Patusan to scare him away — declared he 
would make them all dance to his own tune yet, and 
so on, in a menacing, boasting strain. Perfectly bom- 
bastic and ridiculous, he said. His ears burned at the 
bare recollection. Must have been off his chump in 
some way. . . . The girl, who was sitting with us, 
nodded her little head at me quickly, frowned faintly, 
and said, *I heard him,' with childlike solemnity. He 
laughed and blushed. TVhat stopped him at last, he 
said, was the silence, the complete deathlike silence, of 
the indistinct figure far over there, that seemed to hang 
collapsed, doubled over the rail in a weird immobility. 
He came to his senses, and ceasing suddenly, wondered 
greatly at himself. He watched for a while. Not a 
stir, not a sound. * Exactly as if the chap had died 
while I had been making all that noise,' he said. He was 
so ashamed of himself that he went indoors in a hurry 


without another word, and flung himself down again. 
The row seemed to have done him good though, be- 
cause he went to sleep for the rest of the night like a 
baby. Hadn't slept like that for weeks. 'But / didn't 
sleep/ struck in the girl, one elbow on the table and 
nursing her cheek. 'I watched.' Her big eyes flashed, 
rolling a little, and then she fixed them on my face 


"You may imagine with what interest I listened. 
All these details were perceived to have some signifi- 
cance twenty-four hours later. In the morning Cor- 
nelius made no allusion to the events of the night. ^I 
suppose you will come back to my poor house/ he 
muttered, surlily, slinking up just as Jim was entering 
the canoe to go over to Doramin's campong. Jim only 
nodded, without looking at him. * You find it good fun, 
no doubt/ muttered the other in a sour tone. Jim 
spent the day with the old naJehoday OTSg^ingthe 
n ecessity ^f y^fnmiia fl/*[f'nn to the principal men of the 
Bugis community, who had been siunmoned for a big 
talk. He remembered with pleasure how very eloquent 
and persuasive he had been. *I managed to put some 
backbone into them that time, and no mistake,' he said. 
Sherif All's last raid had swept the outskirts of the 
settlement, and some women belonging to tibe town had 
been carried off to the stockade. Sherif All's emissaries 
had been seen in the market-place the day before, 
strutting about haughtily in white cloaks, and boasting 
of the Rajah's friendship for their master. One of 
them stood forward in the shade of a tree, and, leaning 
on the long barrel of a rifle, exhorted the people to 
prayer and repentance, advising them to kill all the 
strangers in their midst, some of whom, he said, were 
infidels and others even worse — children of Satan in the 
guise of Moslems. It was reported that several of the 
Rajah's people amongst the listeners had loudly ex- 
pressed their approbation. The terror amongst the 



common people was intense. Jim, immensely pleased 
with his day's work, crossed the river again before sun- 

''As he had got the Bugis irretrievably committed to 
action and had made himself responsible for success on 
his own heady he was so elated that in the lightness of 
his heart he absolutely tried to be civil with Cornelius. 
But Cornelius became wildly jovial in response^ and it 
was almost more than he could standi he says, to hear 
his little squeaks of false laughter, to see him wriggle and 
blink, and suddenly catch hold of his chin and crouch 
low over the table with a distracted stare. The girl did 
not show herself, and Jim retired early. When he rose 
to say good-night, Cornelius jumped up, knocking his 
chair over, and ducked out of sight as if to pick up some- 
thing he had dropped. His good-night came huskily 
from under the table. Jim was amazed to see him 
emerge out with a dropping jaw, and staring, stupidly 
frightened eyes. He clutched the edge of the table. 
'What's the matter? Are you unwell?* asked Jim. 
*Yes, yes, yes. A great colic in my stomach,' says the 
other; and it is Jim's opinion that it was perfectly true. 
If so, it was, in view of his contemplated action, an 
abject sign of a still imperfect callousness for which he 
must be given all due credit. 

"Be it as it may, Jim's slumbers were disturbed by a 
dream of heavens like brass resounding with a great 
voice, which called upon him to Awake! Awake! so 
loud that, notwithstanding his desperate determination 
to sleep on, he did wake up in reality. The glare of a 
red spluttering conflagration going on in mid-air feU on 
his eyes. Coils of black thick smoke ciu^ed round the 
head of some apparition, some unearthly being, all in 
white, with a severe, drawn, anxious face. After a 
Mcond or so he recognised the girl. She was holding 


a dammar torch at arm's-length aloft, and in a per- 
sistent, urgent monotone she was repeating, 'Get up! 
Get up! Get up!' 

^* Suddenly he leaped to his feet; at once she put into 
his hand a revolver, his own revolver, which had been 
hanging on a nail, but loaded this time. He gripped it 
in silence, bewildered, blinkmg m the Kght. He won- 
dered what he could do for her. 

"She asked rapidly and very low, *Can you face four 
men with this?' He laughed while narrating this part 
at the recollection of his polite alacrity. It seems he 
made a great display of it. * Certainly — of course — 
certainly — command me.' He was not properly awake, 
and had a notion of being very civil in these extraor- ^jkV«*^ 
dinary circumstances, of showing his unquestioning,*^ 
devoted readi ness. She left the room, and he followed 
her; in tllTpasshge they disturbed an old hag who did 
the casual cooking of the household, though she was so 
decrepit as to be hardly able to understand human 
speech. She got up and hobbled behind them, mum- 
bling toothlessly. On the verandah a hammock of sail- 
cloth, belonging to Cornelius, swayed lightly to the 
touch of Jim's elbow. It was empty. 

"The Patusan establishment, like all the posts of 
Stein's Trading Company, had originally consisted of 
four buildings. Two of them were represented by two 
heaps of sticks, broken bamboos, rotten thatch, over 
which the four comer-posts of hardwood leaned sadly at 
different angles: the principal storeroom, however, 
stood yet, facing the agent's house. It was an oblong 
hut, built of mud and clay: it had at one end a wide 
door of stout planking, which so far had not come off the 
hinges, and in one of the side walls there was a square 
aperture, a sort of window, with three wooden bars. 
Before descending the few steps the girl turned her face 


over her shoulder and said quickly, *You were to be 
set upon while you slept/ Jim tells me he experienced 
a sense of deception. It was the old story. He was 
weary of these attempts upon his life. He had had his 
fill of these alarms. He was sick of them. He assured 
me he was angry with the girl for deceiving him. He 
had followed her under the impression that it was she 
who wanted his help, and now he had half a mind to 
turn on his heel and go back in disgust. 'Do you 
know/ he commented, profoundly, *I rather think I 
was not quite myself for whole weeks on end about that 
time.' *0h, yes. You were though,' I couldn't help 

"But she moved on swiftly, and he followed her into 
the courtyard. All its fences had fallen in a long time 
ago; the neighbours' buffaloes would pace in the 
morning across the open space, snorting profoundly, 
without haste; the very jungle was invading it already. 
Jim and the girl stopped in the rank grass. The light 
in which they stood made a dense blackness all round, 
and only above their heads there was an opulent glitter 
of stars. He told me it was a beautiful night — quite 
cool, with a little stir of breeze from the river. It seems 
he noticed its friendly beauty. Remember this is a 
love-story I am telling you now. A lovely night that 
seemed to breathe on them a soft caress. The flame of 
the torch streamed now and then with a fluttering noise 
like a flag, and for a time this was the only sound. 
'They are in the storeroom waiting,' whispered the girl; 
* they are waiting for the signal.' ' Who's to give it ? ' he 
asked. She shook the torch, which blazed up after a 
shower of sparks. 'Only you have been sleeping so 
restlessly,' she continued in a murmur. *I watched 
your sleep, too.' 'You!' he exclaimed, craning his 
neck to look about him. 'You think I watched on this 


night only!' she said, with a sort of despairing indig- 

*'He says it was as if he had received a blow on the 
chest. He gasped. He thought he had been an awfid 
brute somehow, and he felt remorseful, touched, happy, 
elated. This, let me remind you again, is a love story; 
you can see it by the imbecility, not a repulsive imbe- 
cility, the exalted imbecility of these proceedings, this 
station in torchlight, as if they had come there on 
purpose to have it out for the edification of concealed 
murderers. If Sherif AJi's emissaries had been pos- 
sessed — ^as Jim remarked — of a pennyworth of spunk, 
this was the time to make a rush. His heart was thump- 
ing — not with fear — ^but he seemed to hear the grass 
rustle, and he stepped smartly out of the light. Some- 
thing dark, imperfectly seen, flitted rapidly out of sight. 
He called out in a strong voice, * Cornelius! O Cor- 
nelius!' A profound silence succeeded: his voice did 
not seem to have carried twenty feet. Again the girl 
was by his side. 'Fly!' she said. The old woman was 
coming up; her broken figure hovered in crippled little 
jumps on the edge of the light; they heard her mum- 
bling, and a light, moaning sigh, 'fly!' repeated the 
girl, excitedly. 'They are frightened now — this light — . 
the voices. They know you are awake now — ^they 
know you are big, strong, fearless . . .' *If I am 
all that,' he began, but she interrupted him. *Yes — 
to-night! But what of to-morrow night? Of the next 
night? Of the night after — of all the many, many 
nights? Can I be always watching? ' A sobbing catch 
of her breath affected him beyond the power of words. I 

''He told me that he had never felt so small, so I 
powerless — and as to courage, what was the good of I 
it? he thought. He was so helples s that even flight I 
seemed of no use; and though she kept on whispering, I 



'Go to Doramin^ go to Doramin/ with feverish in- 
sistence, he realised that for him there was no refuge 
from that loneliness which centupled all his dangers 
except — ^in her. *I thought/ he said to me, 'that if I 
went away from her it would be the end of everything 
somehow/ Only as they couldn't stop there for ever 
in the middle of that courtyard, he made up his mind to 
go and look into the storehouse. He let her follow him 
without thinking of any protest, as if they had been 
indissolubly united. 'I am fearless — am I?' he mut- 
tered through his teeth. She restrained his arm. 
*Wait till you hear my voice,' she said, and, torch in 
hand, ran lightly round the comer. He remained alone 
in the darkness, his face to the door: not a sound, not a 
breath came from the other side. The old hag let out a 
dreary groan somewhere behind his back. He heard 
a high-pitched almost screaming call from the girl. 
*Now! Push!' He pushed violently; the door swung 
with a creak and a clatter, disclosing to his intense 
astonishment the low dungeon-like interior illuminated 
by a lurid, wavering glare. A turmoil of smoke eddied 
down upon an empty wooden crate in the middle of the 
floor, a litter of rags and straw tried to soar, but only 
stirred feebly in the draught. She had thrust the light 
through the bars of the window. He saw her bare 
round arm extended and rigid, holding up the torch 
with the steadiness of an iron bracket. A conical 
ragged heap of old mats cumbered a distant comer 
almost to the ceiling, and that was all. 

"He explained to me that he was bitterly dis- 
appointed at this. His fortitude had been tried by so 
many warnings, he had been for weeks surrounded by so 
many hints of danger, that he wanted the relief of some 
reality, of something tangible that he could meet. *It 
would have cleared the air for a couple of hours at least, 


if you know what I mean/ he said to me. *Jove! I 
had been living for days with a stone on my chest.* 
Now at last he had thought he would get hold of some- 
thing, and — nothing! Not a trace, not a sign of any- 
body. He had raised his weapon as the door flew open, 
but now his arm fell. *Fire! Defend yourself,* the 
girl outside cried in an agonising voice. She, being in 
the dark and with her arm thrust in to the shoulder 
through the small hole, couldn't see what was going on, 
and she dared not withdraw the torch now to run 
round. *There*s nobody here!* yelled Jim, contemptu- 
ously, but his impulse to burst into a resentful ex- 
asperated laugh died without a sound : he had perceived 
in the very act of turning away that he was exchanging 
glances with a pair of eyes in the heap of mats. He saw 
a shifting gleam of whites. *Come out!* he cried in a 
fury, a little doubtful, and a dark-faced head, a head 
without a body, shaped itself in the rubbish, a strangely 
detached head, that looked at him with a steady scowl. 
Next moment the whole mound stirred, and with a low 
grunt a man emerged swiftly, and bounded towards 
Jim. Behind him the mats as it were jumped and flew, 
his right arm was raised with a crooked elbow, and the 
dull blade of a kris protruded from his fist held off, a 
little above his head. A cloth wound tight round his 
loins seemed dazzlingly white on his bronze skin; his 
naked body glistened as if wet. 

"Jim noted all this. He told me he was experiencing 
a feeling of unutterable relief, of vengeful elation. He 
held his shot, he says, deliberately. He held it for the 
tenth part of a second, for three strides of the man — an 
unconscionable time. He held it for the pleasure of 
saying to himself. That's a dead man! He was 
absolutely positive and certain. He let him come on 
because it did not matter. A dead man, anyhow. He 


noticed the dilated nostrils, the wide eyes, the intent, 
eager stiUness of the face, and then he fired. 

''The explosion in that confined space was stunning. 
He stepped back a pace. He saw the man jerk his head 
up, fling his arms forward, and drop the kris. He 
ascertained afterwards that he had shot him through 
the mouth, a little upwards, the bullet coming out high 
at the back of the skull. With the impetus of his rush 
the man drove straight on, his face suddenly gaping 
disfigured, with his hands open before him gropingly, as 
though blinded, and landed with terrific violence on his 
forehead, just short of Jim's bare toes. Jim says he 
didn't lose the smallest detail of all this. He found 
himself calm, appeased, without rancour, without un- 
easiness, as if the death of that man had atoned for 
everything. The place was getting very full of sooty 
smoke from the torch, in which the unswaying fiame 
burned blood-red without a flicker. He walked in 
resolutely, striding over the dead body, and covered 
with his revolver another naked figure outlined vaguely 
at the other end. As he was about to pull the trigger, 
the man threw away with force a short heavy spear, 
and squatted submissively on his hams, his badk to the 
wall and his clasped hands between his legs. 'You 
want your life? ' Jim said. The other made no sound. 
'How many more of you?' asked Jim again. 'Two 
more, Tuan,' said the man very softly, looking with 
big fascinated eyes into the muzzle of the revolver. 
Accordingly two more crawled from under the mats, 
holding out ostentatiously their empty hands." 


''Jim took up an advantageous position and shep- 
herded them out in a bunch through the doorway: all 
that time the torch had remamed vertical m the grip of a 
little hand, without so much as a tremble. The three 
men obeyed him, perfectly mute, moving automaticaUy. 
He ranged them in a row. *Link arms!' he ordered. 
They did so. * The first who withdraws his arm or turns 
his head is a dead man,' he said. * March!' They 
stepped out together, rigidly; he followed, and at the 
side the girl, in a traiUng white gown, her black hair 
falling as low as her waist, bore the light. Erectand 
swaying, she seemed to glide without touching the earth; 
the only sound was the silky swish and rustle of the long 
grass. 'Stop!' cried Jim. 

"The river-bank was steep; a great freshness as- 
cended, the light fell on the edge of smooth dark water 
frothing without a ripple; right and left the shapes of the 
houses ran together below the sharp outlines of the 
roofs. 'Take my greetings to Sherif Ali — till I come 
myselfyl said Jim. Not one head of the three budged. 
'^'QumpJ^he thundered. The three splashes made one 
splash, a shower flew up, black heads bobbed con- 
vulsively, and disappeared; but a great blowing and 
spluttering went on, growing f amt, for they were diving 
industriously in great fear of a parting shot. Jim 
turned to the girl, who had been a silent and attentive 
observer. His heart seemed suddenly to grow too big 
for his breast and choke him in the hollow of his throat. 
This probably made him speechless for so long, and after 




returning his gaze she flung the burning torch with a 

, wide sweep of the arm into the river. The ruddy fiery 

' Vv glare» taking a long flight through the night, sank with a 

yiSVA vicious hiss, and the calm soft starlight descended upon 

V them, unchecked. 

^'He did not tell me what it was he said when at last 
he recovered his voice. I don^t suppose he could be 
very eloquent. The world was still, the night breathed 
on them, one of those nights that seem created for the 
sheltering of tenderness, and there are moments when 
our souls, as if freed from their dark envelope, glow 
with an exquisite sensibility that makes certain silences 
more lucid than speeches. As to the girl, he told me, 
*She broke down a bit. Excitement — don't you know. 
Reaction. Deucedly tired she must have been — and 
all that kind of thing. And — and — ^hang it all — she 
was fond of me, don't you see. ... I, too . . . 
didn't know, of course . . . never entered my 

"There he got up and began to walk about in some 
agitation. *I — ^I love her dearly. More than I could 
tell. Of course one cannot tell. You take a different 
view of your actions when you come to understand, 
when you are made to understand every day that your 
existence is necessary — you see, absolutely necessary — 
to another person. I am made to feel that. Wonder- 
ful. But only try to think what her life had been. It is 
too extravagantly awful! Isn't it? And me finding 
her here like this — as you may go out for a stroll and 
come suddenly upon somebody drowning in a lonely 
dark place. Jove! No time to lose. Well, it is a 
trust, too ... I believe I am equal to it. . . .' 
f^ "I must tell you the girl had left us to ourselves some 
time before. He slapped his chest. * Yes ! I feel that, 
but I believe I am equal to all my luck ! ' He had the 


gift of finding a special meaning in everything that 
happened to him. This was the view he took of his 
love-affair; it was idyllic, a little solemn, and also true, 
since his belief had all the unshakable seriousness of 
youth. Some time after, on another occasion, he said 
to me, *IVe been only two years here, and now, upon my 
word, I can't conceive being able to live anywhere else. 
The very thought of the world outside is enough to give 
me a fright; because, don't you see,' he continued, with 
downcast eyes watching the action of his boot busied in 
squashing thoroughly a tiny bit of dried mud (we were 
strolling on the river-bank) — * because I have not for- 
gotten why I came here. Not yet!' 

"I refrained from looking at him, but I think I heard 
a short sigh; we took a turn or two in silence. 'Upon 
my soul and conscience,' he began again, 'if such a 
thing can be forgotten, then I think I have a right 
to dismiss it from my mind. Ask anjr man here* . . . 
his voice changed. *Is it not strange,' he went on in a 
gentle, almost yearning tone, 'that all these people, all 
these people who would do anything for me, can never 
be made to understand? Never! If you disbelieve 
me I could not call them up. It seems hard, somehow. 
I am stupid, am I not? What more can I want? If 
you ask them who is brave — who is true — who is just — 
who is it they would trust with their lives? — they would 
say, Tuan Jim. And yet they can never know the 
real, real truth. . . ' 

"That's what he said to me on my last day with him. 
I did not let a murmur escape me: I felt he was going 
to say more, and come no nearer to the root of the 
matter. The sun, whose concentrated glare dwarfs the 
earth into a restless mote of dust, had sunk behind the 
forest, and the diffused light from an opal sky seemed 
to cast upon a world without shadows and without 



brilliance the illusion of a calm and pensive greatness. 
I don't know why, listening to him» I should have noted 
so distinctly the gradual darkening of the river, of the 
air; the irresistible slow work of the night settling 
sflently on all the visible forms, effacmg the outlines, 
burying the shapes deeper and deeper, like a steady fall 
of impalpable black dust. 

"*Jove!* he b^^, abruptly, * there are days when a 
fellow is too absurd for anything; only I know I can tell 
you what I like. I talk about being done with it — with 
the bally thing at the back of my head. • • . For- 
getting. • • • Hang me if I know! I can think of it 
quietly. After all, what has it proved? Nothing. I 
suppose you don't think so. • • .' 
I made a protesting murmur. 
No matter,' he said. ^I am satisfied • • • 
nearlyy Tve got to look only at the face of the first man 
that comes along, to regain my confidence. They 
can't be made to understand what is going on in m'e. 
What of that? Come! I haven't done so badly.' 
Not so badly,* I said. 

'But all the same, you wouldn't like to have me 
aboard your own ship — ^hey?' 

" * Confound you ! ' I cried. * Stop this.' 

" * Aha! You see,' he cried, crowing, as it were, over me 
placidly. *Only,' he went on, *you just try to tell this to 
any of them here. They would think you a fool, a liar, 
or worse. And so I can stand it. I've done a thing or 
two for them, but this is what they have done for me.' 

" *My dear chap,' I cried, *you shall always remain for 
them an insoluble mystery.' Thereupon we were silent. 

"* Mystery,' he repeated, before looking up. *Well, 
then let me always remain here.' 

"After the sun had set, the darkness seemed to drive 
upon us, borne in every faint puflF of the breeze. In the 


middle of a hedged path I saw the arrested^ gaunt, 
watchful, and apparently one-legged silhouette of "^ 
Tamb* Itam; and across the dusky space my eye de- 
tected something white moving to and fro behind the 
supports of the roof. As soon as Jim, with Tamb' Itam 
at his heels, had started upon his evening rounds, I went 
up to the house alone, and, unexpectedly, found myself 
waylaid by the girl, who had been clearly waiting for 
this opportunity. 

"It is hard to tell you what it was precisely she 
wanted to wrest from me. Obviously it would be 
something very simple-the simplest impossibihty in 
the world; as, for instance, the exact description of the 
form of a cloud. She wanted an assurance, a statement, 
a promise, an explanation — ^I don^t know how to call itj^,^^ 
the thing has no name. It was dark imder the pi^o^ 
jecting roof, and all I could see were the flowing lines 
of her gown, the pale small oval of her face, with the 
white flash of her teeth, and, turned towards me, the 
big sombre orbits of her eyes, where there seemed to be a | ^ , 
faint stir, such as you may fancy you can detect when 
you plunge your gaze to the bottom of an immense!;^ _J ? 
deep well. ^SJ^at is jUJ^at moves there? you ask y^^ 
self. Is it ^blind inonst^ or only a lost gleam from the 
universe? it occurred to me--don*t laugh — ^that^all^ 
things being dissimilar^she was more inscrutable in her 
childish ignorance than the Sphinx propounding child- 
ish riddles to wayfarers. She had been carried off to 
Patusan before her eyes were open. She had grown up 
there; she had seen nothing, she had known nothing, 
she had no conception of anything. I ask jojrsell 
whether she were sure that anything else existed! What 
notions she may have formed of the outsiderworld is to 
me inconceivable: all that she knew of its inhabitants 
were a betrayed woman and a sinister pantaloon. Her 




lover also came to her from there^ gifted with irresistible 
seductions; but what would become of her if he should 
return to these inconceivable regions that seemed always 
to claim back their own? Her mother had warned her 
of this with tears, before she died. . . . 

*^She had caught hold of my arm firmly » and as soon 
as I had stopped she had withdrawn her hand in haste. 
She was audacious and shrinkiiig^^e feared nothing, 
but she was checked by the profound incertitude and 
the extreme strangeness— a brave person groping in the 
dark. I belonged to this Unl^ gwn that might claim 
. ^im for its own at imy Si^SS^ I was, as it were, in 
V \ the secret of its nature and of its intentions; — ^the con- 
^ fidant of a threatening myatCTy;— a™ed with its 
c^^ power perhaps! I believe she supposed I could with a 
word whisk Jim away out of her very arms; it is my 
sober convictio^ she went through agonies of appre- 
hefnsion during my long talks with Jim; through a real 
/ and intolerable ^nguish that might have conceivably 
■ driven her into plotting my murder, had the fierceness 
of her soul been equal to the tremendous situation it had 
created. This is my impression, and it is all I can give 
you: the whole thing dawned gradually upon me, and 
as it got clearer and clearer I was overwhelmed by a 
slow incredulous amazement. She made me believe 
her, but there is no word that on my lips could render 
the eflPect of the headlong and vehement whisper, of the 
soft, passionate tones, of the sudden breathless pause 
and the appealing movement of the white arms extended 
swiftly. They fell; the ghostly figure swayed like a 
slender tree in the wind, the pale oval of the face 
drooped; it was impossible to distinguish her features, 
the darkness of the eyes was unfathomable; two wide 
sleeves uprose in the dark like unfolding wings, and she 
stood silent, holding her head in her hands." 



, ;'« -'-^ 


"I WAS immensely touched: her youth, her ignorance, 
her pretty beauty, which had the simple charm and the 
delicate vigour of a wild-flower, her pathetic pleading, 
her helplessness, appealed to me with almost the 
st]:^ngth of her own unreasonable and natiural fear.^ 
)h^ feared the imknown as we all /^^, ^rx^J^^ jgn^yoT%/u> 
made the unknown infinitely vast*^MrS^jSc2t> for / 
myself, for you fellows, for all the world that neither^ / 
cared for Jim nor needed hirn m^J^Jeasi* I would 
Lave been ready enoiigh^to answer for the indifference 
of the teeming earth but for the reflection that he, too, 
belonged to this mysterious imknown of her fears, and 
that, however much I stood for, I did not stand for him. 
This made me hesitate. A murmur of hopeless pain 
unsealed my lips. I began by protesting that I at 
least had come with no intention to take Jim away. 

"Why did I come, then? After a slight movement 
she was as still as a marble statue in the night. I tried 
to explain briefly: friendship, business; if I had any 
wish in the matter it was rather to see him stay. • • • 
*They always leave us,* she murmiured. The breath 
of sad wisdom from the grave which her piety wreathed 
with flowers seemed to pass in a faint sigh. • . • 
Nothing, I said, could separate Jim from her. 

"It is my firm conviction now; it was my conviction 
at the time; it was the only possible conclusion from the 
facts of the case. It was not made more certain by her 
whispering in a tone in which one speaks to oneself, 
*He swore this to me.* *Did you ask him?* I said. 


■•1 ■ \ ^ f 

J<^. J 


J 9- 

/ /r*. -^ . r 


"She made a step nearer. *No. Never!* She had 
asked him only to go away. It was that night on the 
river-bank, after he had killed the man — after she had 
flung the torch in the water because he was looking at 
her so. There was too much light, and the danger was 
over then — ^for a little time — ^for a little time. He said 
then he would not abandon her to Cornelius. She had 
insisted. She wanted him to leave her. He said that 
he could not — ^that it was impossible. He trembled 
while he said this. She had felt him tremble. . • . 
One does not require much imagination to see the scene, 
ahnostto hear then- whispers. She was afraid for him, 
r ioQiJ I ISelieve that then she saw in him only a pre- 
\ destined victim of dangers which she understood 
\ better than himself. Though by nothing but his mere 
y^^ptesence he had mastered her heart, had filled all her 
thoughts, and had possessed himself of all her affections, 
she under-estimated his chances of success. It is 
obvious that at about that time everybody was inclined 
to under-estimate his chances. Strictly speaking he 
didn't seem to have any. I know this was Cornelius's 
view. He confessed that much to me in extenuation of 
the shady part he had played in Sherif Ali's plot to do 
away with the infidel. Even Sherif Ali himself, as it 
seems certain now, had nothing but contempt for the 
white man. Jim was to be murdered mainly on re- 
ligious grounds, I believe. A simple act of piety (and 
so far infinitely meritorious), but otherwise without 
much importance. In the last part of this opinion 
Cornelius concurred. * Honourable sir,* he argued 
abjectly on the only occasion he managed to have me 
to himself — * Honourable sir, how was I to know? Who 
was he? What could he do to make people believe him? 
What did Mr. Stein mean sending a boy like that to 
talk big to an old servant? I was ready to save him for 


eighty dollars. Only eighty dollars. Why didn't the 
fool go? Was I to get stabbed myself for the sake of a 
stranger?* He grovelled in spirit before me, with his 
body doubled up insinuatingly and his hands hovering 
about my knees, as though he were ready to embrace 
my legs. * What's eighty dollars? An insignificant 
sum to give to a defenceless old man ruined for life by a 
deceased she-devil/ Here he wept. But I anticipate. 
I didn't that night chance upon Cornelius till I had had 
it out with the girl. 

"She was unselfish when she urged Jim to leave her, 
and even to leave the country. It was his danger that 
was foremost in her thoughts — even if she wanted to 
save herself, too — ^perhaps unconsciously : ^but then look 
at the warning she had, look at the lesson that could be 
drawn from every moment of the recently ended life in 
which all her memories were centred. She fell at his 
feet — she told me so — there by the river, in the dis- 
creet light of stars which showed nothing except great 
masses of silent shadows, indefinite open spaces, and 
trembling faintly upon the broad stream made it appear 
as wide as the sea. He had lifted her up. He lifted her 
up, and then she would struggle no more. Of course 
not. Strong arms, a tender voice, a stalwart shoulder 
to rest her poor lonely little head upon. The need — the 
infinite need — of all this for the aching heart, for the 
bewildered mind; — ^the promptings of youth — ^the ne- 
cessity of the moment. What would you have? One 
understands — unless one is incapable of understanding 
anything imder the sun. And so she was content to be 
lifted up — and held. *You know — ^Jove! this is seri- 
ous — ^no nonsense in it!' as Jim had whispered hurriedly 
with a troubled concerned face on the threshold of his 
house. I don't know so much about nonsense, but 
there was nothing lighthearted in their romance: they 


came together under the shadow of a life's disaster, like 
knight and maiden meeting to exchange vows amongst 
haimted ruins. The starlight was good enough for that 
story, a light so faint and remote that it cannot resolve 
shadows into shapes, and show the other shore of a 
stream. I did look upon the stream that night and 
from the very place; it rolled silent and as black as 
Styx: the next day I went away, but I am not likely to 
forget what it was she wanted to be saved from when 
she entreated him to leave her while there was time. 
She told me what it was, calmed — she was now too 
passionately interested for mere excitement — in a voice 
as quiet in the obscurity as her white half-lost figure. 
She told me, ^I didn't want to die weeping.' I thought 
I had not heard aright. 

"*You did not want to die weeping?' I repeated after 
her. *Like my mother,' she added readily. The out- 
lines of her white shape did not stir in the least. 'My 
mother had wept bitterly before she died,' she ex- 
plained. An inconceivable calmness seemed to have 
risen from the ground around us, imperceptibly, like the 
still rise of a flood in the night, obliterating the familiar 
landmarks of emotions. There came upon me, as 
though I had felt myself losing my footing in the midst 
of waters, a sudden dread, the dread of the unknown 
depths. She went on explaining that, during the last 
moments, being alone with her mother, she had to leave 
the side of the couch to go and set her back against the 
door, in order to keep Cornelius out. He desired to get 
in, and kept on drumming with both fists, only de- 
sisting now and again to shout huskily, *Let me in! 
Let me in! Let me in!' In a far corner upon a few 
mats the moribund woman, already speechless and un- 
able to lift her arm, rolled her head over, and with a 
feeble movement of her hand seemed to command — 


^No! No!' and the obedient daughter, setting her 
shoulders with all her strength against the door, was 
looking on. *The tears fell from her eyes — and then 
she died,' concluded the girl in ^BJaEgturbable mono- 
tone, which more than anything else, morelhan the 
white statuesque immobility of her person, more than 
mere words could do, troubled my mind profoundly with 
the passive, irremediable horror of the scene. It haJ^ 
the pca ger to drive me ou t of my conception of existence, 
out of that ^Iter eacETof us makes for himself to creep 
under in moments of danger, as a tortoise withdraws 
within its shell. For a moment I had a view of a world 
that seemed to wear a vast and dismal aspect of dis- . 
order, while, in truth, thanks to our unwearied efforts, f 
it is as sunny an arrangement of small conveniences as I 
the mind of man can conceive. But still — it was only I 
a moment: I went back into my shell directly. On^ 
must — don't you know? — ^though I seemed to have lost 
all my words in the chaos of dark thoughts I had con- 
templated for a second or two beyond the pale. These ' 
came back, too, very soon, for words alsoTBelohg to the 
sheltering conception of light and order which is our 
refuge. I had them ready at my disposal before she 
whispered softly, *He swore he woidd never leave me, ) 
when we stood there alone ! He swore to me ! ' . . . / 
*And is it possible that you — ^you! do not believe him?' / 
I asked, sincerely reproachful, genuinely shocked. Why 
couldn't she believe? Wherefore this craving for 
incertitude, this clinging to fear, as if incertitude and 
fear had been the safeguards of her lover^^K was 
monstrous. She should have made for hersdf a shelter 
ormexpugnable peace out of that honest affection. She 
had not the knowledge — ^not the skill perhaps. The 
night had come on apace; it had grown pitch-dark where 
we were, so that without stirring she had faded like the 



■'f ^ 

intangible fonn of a wistful and perverse spirit. Jlnd 
suddenly I heard her quiet whisper again, ^ O ther men 
had awopi the same thin g/ It was like a meditative 
comment on some thoughts full of sadness, of awe. 
And she added, still lower if possible, 'My father did.' 
She paused the time to draw an inaudible breath. ' Her 
father, too.* . . . These were the things she knew! 
At once I said, * Ah! but he is not like that .* This, it 
seemed, she did not intend to dispute; but after a time 
the strange still whisper wandering dreamily in the air 
stole into my ears. * Why is he diflPerent ? Is he better? 
Is he . . / 'Upon my word of honour,*^! broke m, 
* I believe he is. * We subdued our tones to a mysterious 
pitch! Amongst the huts of Jim's workmen (they were 
mostly liberated slaves from the Sherif 's stockade) some- 
body started a shrill, drawling song. Across the river a 
big fire (at Doramin's, I think) made a glowing ball, 
completely isolated in the night. *Is he more true?* 
she murmured. *Yes,* I said. ^M ore true than an y 
o ther man .* she repeated in lingering accents. *No 
body here,* I said, * would dream of doubting his word — 
nobody would dare — except you.* 

"I think she made a movement at this. *More 
brave,* she went on in a changed tone. 'Fear shall 
never drive him away from you,* I said a little nerv- 
ously. The song stopped short on a shrill note, and 
was succeeded by several voices talking in the distance. 
Jim*s voice, too. I was struck by her silence. *What 
has he been telling you? He has been telling you some- 
thing?* I asked. There was no answer. *What is it 
he told you?* I insisted. 

" *Do you think I can tell you? How am I to know? 
How am I to understand? * she cried at last. There was 
a stir. I believe she was wringing her hands. * There is 
v^omething^e can never forget.* n 

\ LORD JIM 316 



*So much the fcetter for you/ I said, gloomily. 

*What is it? iWhat is it?' She put an extraor-l 
dinary force of appeal into her supplicating tone. *He ' 
says he had been S afraid. How can I beHeve this? 
Am I a mad womai^ to believe this? You all remember 

something! You all go back to it. What is it? You 
tell me! What is jthis thing? Is it alive? — ^is it dead? 
I hate it. It is c^el. Has it got a face and a voice 
this calamity? Will he see it — will he hear it? 
his sleep perhaps when he cannot see me — ^and then 
arise and go. jAhl I shall never forgive him. My 
mother had forgiven — ^but I, never! Will it be a sign — 
a call?' 7 /^ 

"'It was a ^ronderful experience, ffh** m^'°*^!y*H hifl 
very. slumltKazi^aJid she seemed to think I could tell her 
why! (Thus a poor mortal seduced by the charm of an 
apparition might have tried to wring from another 
ghost the tremendous secret of the claim the other world 
holds over a disembodied soul astray amongst the / 
of thi» earth./ The^vSy ground on wliich T 


passions of thi» earthy TJie^vSy ground 
stood"~segaied to meltunder my feet. And it was so 
simple, too; but if the spirits evoked by our fears and 
our unrest have ever to vouch for each other's con- 
stancy before the forlorn magicians that we are, then 
I — ^I alone of us dwellers in the flesh — ^have shuddered 
in the hopeless chill of such a task. A sign, a call! 
How telling in its expression was her ignorance. A few 
words ! How she came to know them, how she came.ts^ 
pronounce them, I can't imagingjuyWdmen find their 
inspiration in the stress <^ moments that for us are 
mjgreljMwfiili ahsiu: d> or futile J T^ discover that she 

! had(a y{^ at aU .w^TSoSlii^ strike awe into the 
/ heart. ! Had a spumed stone cried but m pain it could 

"not have appeared a greater and more pitiful miracle. 
These few sounds wandering in the dark had made their 

1 « J, v. 


two benighted lives tragic to my mind. It was im- 
possible to make her understand. I chafed silently at 
my impotence. And Jim, too — ^poor devil! Who 
would need him? Who would remember him? He 
had what he wanted. His very existence probably had 
been forgotten by this time. They had mastered their 
fates. They were tragic. 

"Her immobility before me was clearly expectant, 
and my part was to speak for my brother from the 
realm of forgetful shades. I was deeply moved at my 
responsibility and at her distress. I would have given 
anything for the power to soothe her frail soul, tor- 
menting itself in its invincible ignorance like a small 
beating about the cruel wires of a cage. Nothing 
easier thjinto say, Have no fear! Nothing more 
difficulU H»w f ^oftfi nng kill f^Af^ I wonder? How 
do you shoot a spectre through th^ heart, slash off its 
spectra] head, take it by its spectral throat? It is an 
enterprise youj!Ush into while you dream, and are glad 
to make your escape with wet hair and every limb 
shaMng^C The bullet is not run, the blade not forged, 
the man not bom ; even the winged words of truth drop 
at your feet like lumps of lead. You require for such a 
desperate encounter an enchanted and poisoned shaft 
di pped in a lie too subtle t o hpt foimH on ftarth. An 
pjit^rp riae for a dream, mv masters! 

"I began my exorcism with a heavy heart, with a sort 
of sullen anger in it, too. Jim's voice, suddenly raised 
with a stem intonation, carried across the courtyard, 
reproving the carelessness of some dumb sinner by the 
river-side. Nothing — ^I said, speaking in a distinct 
murmur — ^there could be nothing, in that unknown 
world she fancied so eager to rob her of her happiness, 
there was nothing neither living nor dead, there was no 
face, no voice, no power, that could tear Jim from her 


side. I drew breath and she whispered softly, *He told 
me so/ *He told you the truth/ I said. * Nothing/ 
she sighed out, and abruptly turned upon me with a 
barely audible intensity of tone: *Why did you come 
to us from out there? He speaks of you too often. 
You make me afraid. Do you — do you want him?* 
A sort of stealthy fierceness had crept into our hurried 
mutters. *I shall never come again/ I said, bitterly. 
*And I don't want him. No one wants him.' *No 
one,* she repeated in a tone of doubt. *No one,* I 
affirmed, feeling myself swayed by some strange 
excitement. *You think him strong, wise, courageous, 
great — why not believe him to be true, too? I shall go 
to-morrow — ^and that is the end. You shall never be 
troubled by a voice from there again. This world you 
don't know is too big to miss him. You understand? 
Too big. YouVe got his heart in your hand. You 
must feel that. You must know that.* *Yes, I know 
that,' she breathed out, hard and still, as a statue might 

^'I felt I had done nothing. And what is it that I had 
wished to do? I am not siu^ now. At the time I was 
animated by an inexplicable ardour, as if before some 
great and necessary task — ^the influence of the moment 
upon my mental and emotional state. There are in aB^ 
our lives such moments, such influences, coming from / 
the outside, as it were, irresistible, incomprehensible — / 
as if brought about by the mysterious conjunctions ol-^ 
the planets. She owned, as I had put it to her, his 
heart. She had that and everything else — if she could 
only believe it. What I had to tell her was that in the'^ 
whole world there was no one who ever would need his 
heart, his mind, his hand. It was a common fate, and 
yet it seemed an awful thing to say of any man. f SEe^ 
listened without a word, and her stillness now was like 


the protest of an invincible unbelief. What need she 
care for the world beyond the forests? I asked. From 
all the multitudes that peopled the vastness of that 
unknown there would come, I assured her, as long as he 
lived, neither a call nor a sign for him. Never. I was 
carried away. Never! Never! I remember with 
wonder the sort of dogged fierceness I displayed. I had 
the illusion of having got the spectre by the throat at 
last. Indeed the whole real thing has left behind the 
detailed and amazing impression of a dream. Why 
should she fear? She knew him to be strong, true, wise, 
brave. He was all that. Certainly. He was more. 
He was great— invmcible— and the world did not want 
him, it had foigotten him, it would not even know him. 
^^I stopped; the silence over Patusan was profound, 
and the feeble dry soimd of a paddle striking Uie side of 
a canoe somewhere m the middle of the river seemed to 
make it infinite. *Why?* she murmured. I felt that 
sort of rage one feels during a hard tussle. The spectre 
was trying to slip out of my grasp. *Why?* she re- 
peated louder; 'tell me!' And as I remained con- 
foimded, she stamped with her foot like a spoilt child. 
*Why? Speak.' *You want to know?' I asked in a 
fury. *Yes!' she cried. * Because he is not good 
enough,' I said, brutally. During the moment's pause 
I noticed the fire on the other shore blaze up, dilating 
the circle of its glow like an amazed stare, and contract 
suddenly to a red pin-point. I only knew how close to 
me she had been when I felt the clutch of her fingers on 
my forearm. Without raising her voice, she threw into 
it an infinity of scathing contempt, bitterness, and 

is the very thing he said. . . . You K g! 

last two words she cried at me in the native 

Hear me out!' I entreated; she caught her 

/ r "'Thisi 
Vf \ / "Thelai 
Af ^dialect. '] 


breath tremulously, flung my arm away. *Nobody, 
nobody is good enough/ I b^an with the greatest 
earnestness. I could hear the sobbing labour of her 
breath frightfully quickened. I hung my head. What 
was the use? Footsteps were approaching; I slipped 
away without another word. . ." 


Marlow swung his legs out, got up quickly, and 
staggered a little, as though he had been set down after 
a rush through space. He leaned his back against the 
balustrade and faced a disordered array of long cane- 
chairs. The bodies prone in them seemed startled out 
of their torpor by his movement. One or two sat up as 
if alarmed; here and there a cigar glowed yet; Marlow 
looked at them all with the eyes of a man returning 
from the excessive remoteness of a dream. A throat was 
cleared; a calm voice encouraged negligently, "Well." 

"Nothing," said Marlow with a slight start. "He 
had told her — that's all. She did not believe him — 
nothing more. As to myself, I do not know whether 
it be just, proper, decent for me to rejoice or to be sorry. 
For my part, I cannot say what I believed — indeed I 
don't know to this day, and never shall probably. But 
what did the poor devil believe himself? Truth shall 
prevail — don't you know Magna est Veritas et . . , 
Yes, when it gets a chance. There is a law, no doubt — 
and likewise a law regulates your luck in the throwing 
of dice. It is not Justice the servant of men, but 
accident, hazard. Fortune — the ally of patient Time — 
that holds an even and scrupulous balance. Both of 
us had said the very same thing. Did we both speak the 
truth — or one of us did — or neither? . . ." 

Marlow paused, crossed his arms on his breast, and 
in a changed tone — 


She said we lied. Poor soul. Well — ^let's leave 
it to Chance, whose ally is Time that cannot be hurried, 


• -- . ^ 


and whose enemy is Death, that will not wait. I had 
retreated — a little cowed, I must own. I had tried 
a fall with fear itself and got thrown — of course. I 
had only succeeded in adding to her anguish the hint 
of some mysterious collusion, of an inexplicable and 
incomprehensible conspiracy to keep her for ever in the 
dark. And it had come easily, naturally, unavoidably, 
by his act, by her own act ! It was as though I Tiad^^ 
been shown the working of the implacable destiny^of 
which we are the victims — ^and the tools/^ Jt^ was ap- 
palling to think of the giri whom I had left standing 
there motionless; Jim's footsteps had a fateful sound 
as he tramped by, without seeing me, in his heavy 
laced boots. *What? No lights!' he said in a loud, 
surprised voice. *What are you doing in the dark-— 
you two?' Next moment he caught sight of her, I 
suppose. 'Hallo, girl!' he cried, cheerily. 'Hallo, 
boy ! ' she answered at once, with amazing pluck. 

"This was their usual greeting to each other, and 
the bit of swagger she would put into her rather high 
but sweet voice was very droll, pretty, and childlike. 
It delighted Jim greatly. This was the last occasion 
on which I heard them exchange this famUiar hail, 
and it struck a chill into my heart. There was the 
high sweet voice, the pretty effort, the swagger; but 
it all seemed to die out prematurely, and the playful 
call sounded like a moan. It was too confoundedly 
awful. * What have you done with Marlow? ' Jim was 
asking; and then, *Gone down — ^has he? Funny I 
didn't meet him. . . . You there, Marlow?' 

"I didn't answer. I wasn't going in — ^not yet at 
any rate. I really couldn't. While he was calling 
me I was engaged in making my escape through a 
little gate leading out upon a stretch of newly cleared 
ground. No; I coiddn't face them yet. I walked 


hastily with lowered head along a trodden path. The 
ground rose gently, the few big trees had been felled, the 
undergrowth had been cut down and the grass fired. 
He had a mind to try a coffee-plantation there. The 
big hill, rearing its double summit coal-black in the 
clear yellow glow of the rising moon, seemed to cast its 
shadow upon the groimd prepared for that experiment. 
He was going to try ever so many experiments; I had 
admired his energy, his enterprise, and his shrewdness. 
Nothing on earth seemed less real now than his plans, his 
energy, and his enthusiasm; and raising my eyes, I saw 
part of the moon glittering through the bushes at the 
bottom of the chasm. For a moment it looked as 
though the smooth disc, falling from its place in the sky 
upon the earth, had rolled to the bottom of that preci- 
pice: its ascending movement was like a leisurely re- 
boimd; it disengaged itself from the tangle of twigs; the 
bare contorted limb of some tree, growing on the slope, 
made a black crack right across its face. It threw its 
level rays afar as if from a cavern, and in this mournful 
eclipse-like light the stumps of felled trees uprose very 
dark, the heavy shadows fell at my feet on all sides, my 
own moving shadow, and across my path the shadow 
of the solitary grave perpetually garlanded with flowers. 
In the darkened moonlight the interlaced blossoms took 
on shapes foreign to one's memory and colours in- 
definable to the eye, as though they had been special 
flowers gathered by no man, grown not in this world, 
and destined for the use of the dead alone. Their 
powerful scent hung in the warm air, making it thick 
and heavy like the fumes of incense. The lumps of 
white coral shone round the dark mound like a chaplet 
of bleached skulls, and everything around was so quiet 
that when I stood still all sound and all movements in 
the world seemed to come to an end. 


*^It was a great peace, as if the earth had been one I 
grave, and for a time I stood there thinking mostly of 
the living who, buried in remote places out of the 
knowledge of mankind, still are fated to share in its 
tragic or grotesque miseries. In its noble struggles, 
too — who knows? The human heart is vast enough 
to contain all the world. It is valiant enough to bear 
the burden, but where is the coiurage that would cast / 
it off? 

^^I suppose I must have fallen into a sentimental 
mood; I only know that I stood there long enough for 
the sense of utter solitude to get hold of me so com- 
pletely that all I had lately seen, all I had heard, and 
the very human speech itself, seemed to have passed 
away out of existence, living only for a while longer 
in my memory, as though I had been the last of man- 
kind. It was a strange and melancholy illusion, 
evolved half -consciously like all o ur illusio ns, which 
suspect only to be visions of remote imattamable truth^ 
seen dimly. This was, indeed, one of the lost, forgotten, 
unkaosnuplaces of the earth ;^fiad looked under its 
-o^e«;fe] arirrfelraiiit when to-morrow I had 
left it for ever, it would slip out of existence, to live 
only m my memory tiU I myself passed into obUvion. 
I have that feeling about me now; perhaps it is that feet 
ing which has i^^^H?^ ^^ ^^ ^*^^^ 7^" *^^ °^' 

/ / 

hand over to you, as it were, its very existence, its 
reality — the truth disclosed in a moment of illusion . 

" ComelTus bfUktt lipon it. )de bolted out, vermin^ 
like, from the long grass growing in a depression of the 
groimd. I believe his house was rotting somewhere 
near by, though IVe never seen it, not having been far 
enough in that direction. He ran towards me upon the 
path; his feet, shod in dirty white shoes, twinkled on the 
dark earth: he pulled himself up, and began to whine 



and cringe under a tall stove-pipe hat. His dried-up 
little carcass was swallowed up, totally lost, in a suit of 
black broadcloth. That was his costume for holidays 
and ceremonies, and it reminded me that this was the 
fourth Sunday I had spent in Fatusan. All the time of 
my stay I had been vaguely aware of his desire to con- 
fide in me, if he only could get me all to himself. He 
hung about with an eager craving look on his sour 
yellow little face; but his timidity had kept him back as 
much as my natural reluctance to have anything to do 
with such an unsavoiuy creature. He would have 
succeeded, nevertheless, had he not been so ready to 
slink off as soon as you looked at him. He would slink 
off before Jim's severe gaze, before my own, which I 
tried to make indifferent, even before Tamb' Itam's 
surly, superior glance. He was perpetually slinking 
away; whenever seen he was seen moving off de- 
viously, his face over his should^, with either a mis- 
trustful snarl or a woe-begone, piteous, mute aspect; 
but no assumed expression could conceal this innate 
irremediable abjectness of his nature, any more than 
an arrangement of clothing can conceal some monstrous 
deformity of the body. 

"I don't know whether it was the demoralisation 
of my utter defeat in my encounter with a spectre of 
fear less than an hour ago, but I let him capture me 
without even a show of resistance^^T was doomed to be 
the recipient of confidences, and to be confronted with 
unanswerable questions. It was trying; but the con- 
tempt, the unreasoned contempt, the man's appearance 
provoked, made it easier to bear. He couldn't possibly 
matter. Nothing mattered, since I had made up my 
^ /mind that Jim, for whom alone I cared, had at last 
mastCT ed hisjate. He had told me he was satisfied . . . 
nearly^ THSs is going further than most of us dare. 


I — who have the right to think my self good enough — dare 
not. Neither does any of you here, I suppose? . . •" 

Marlow paused, as if expecting an answer. Nobody 

"'Quite right/' he began again. ""Let no soul know, 
since the truth can be wrung out of us only by some 
cruel, little, awful catastrophe. But he^_onejrfjis^ 
and he could say he was satisfied • • • nearly. 
Just fancy this! Nearly satisfied. One could almost 
envy him his catastrophe. Nearly satisfied. After 
this nothing could matter. It did not matter who 
suspected him, who trusted him, who loved him, who 
hated him — especially as it was Cornelius who hated him. 

""Yet after all this was a kind of recognition. You 
shall judge of a man by his foes as well as by his friends, 
and this enemy of Jim was such as no decent man would 
be ashamed to own, without, however, making too much 
of him. This was the view Jim took, and in which I 
shared; but Jim disregarded him on general grounds. 
"My dear Marlow,' he said, "I feel that if I go straight 
nothing can touch me. Indeed I do. Now you have 
been long enough here to have a good look round — and, 
frankly, don't you think I am pretty safe? It all de- 
pends upon me, and, by Jove ! I have lots of confidence 
in myself. The worst thing he could do would be to 
kill me, I suppose. I don't think for a moment he 
would. He couldn't, you know — not if I were myself to 
hand him a loaded rifle for the purpose, and then turn 
my back on him. That's the sort of thing he is. And 
suppose he would — suppose he could? Well — what of 
that? I didn't come here flying for my life — did I? 
I came here to set my back against the wall, and I am 
going to stay here . . .' 

Till you are quite satisfied,' I struck in. 
We were sitting at the time under the roof in the 


stem of his boat; twenty paddles flashed like one, ten on 
a side, striking the water with a single splash, while be- 
hind our backs Tamb* Itam dipped silently right and 
left, and stared right down the river, attentive to keep 
the long canoe in the greatest strength of the current. 
Jim bowed his head, and our last talk seemed to flicker 
out for good. He was seeing me ofl? as far as the mouth 
of the river. The schooner had left the day before, 
working down and drifting on the ebb, while I had pro- 
longed my stay overnight. And now he was seeing 
me off. 

"Jim had been a little angry with me for mentioning 
Cornelius at all. I had not, in truth, said much. The 
man was too insignificant to be dangerous, though he 
was as full of hate as he could hold. He had called 
me 'honourable sir* at every second sentence, and had 
whined at my elbow as he followed me from the grave 
of his 'late wife* to the gate of Jim's compound. He 
declared himself the most unhappy of men, a victun, 
crushed like a worm; he entreated me to look at him. 
I wouldn't turn my head to do so; but I could see 
out of the comer of my eye his obsequious shadow 
gliding after mine, whUe the moon, suspended on our 
right hand, seemed to gloat serenely upon the spectacle. 
He tried to explain — as I've told you — ^his share in the 
events of the memorable night. It was a matter of 
expediency. How could he know who was going to get 
the upper hand? *I would have saved him, honourable 
sir! I would have saved him for eighty dollars,' he 
protested in dulcet tones, keeping a pace behind me. 
*He has saved himself,* I said, *and he has forgiven you.* 
I heard a sort of tittering, and turned upon him ; at once 
he appeared ready to take to his heels. *What are 
you laughing at?' I asked, standing still. * Don't 
be deceived, honourable sir!* he shrieked, seemingly 


losing all control over his feelings. ^He save himself! 
He knows nothing, honourable sir — ^nothing whatever. 
Who is he? What does he want here — ^the big thief? 
What does he want here? He throws dust into every- 
body's eyes; he throws dust into your eyes, honourable 
sir; but he can't throw dust into my eyes. He is a big 
fool, honourable sir/ I laughed contemptuously, and, 
turning on my heel, began to walk on again. He rm 
up to my elbow and whispered forcibly, *He's no more 
than a little child here — ^like a little child — a little child.* 
Of course I didn't take the slightest notice, and seeing 
the time pressed, because we were approaching the 
bamboo fence that glittered over the blackened ground 
of the clearing, he came to the point. He commenced 
by being abjectly lachrymose. His great misfortunes 
had aflfected his head. He hoped I would kindly forget 
what nothing but his troubles made him say. He 
didn't mean anything by it; only the honourable sir 
did not know what it was to be ruined, broken down, 
trampled upon. After this introduction he approached 
the matter near his heart, but in such a rambling, 
ejaculatory, craven fashion, that for a long time I 
couldn't make out what he was driving at. He wanted 
me to intercede with Jim in his favour. It seemed, too, 
to be some sort of money affair. I heard time and 
again the words, * Moderate provision — suitable pres- 
ent.' He seemed to be claiming value for something, 
and he even went the length of saying with some warmth 
that life was not worth having if a man were to be 
robbed of everything. I did not breathe a word, of 
course, but neither did I stop my ears. The gist of the 
affair, which became clear to me gradually, was in this, 
that he regarded himself as entitled to some money in 
exchange for the girl. He had brought her up. Some- 
body else's child. Great trouble and pains — old man 


now — suitable present. If the honourable sir would 
say a word. ... I stood still to look at him with 
curiosity, and fearful lest I should think him extortion- 
ate, I suppose, he hastily brought himself to make a 
concession. In consideration of a 'suitable present' 
given at once, he would, he declared, be willing to under- 
take the charge of the girl, 'without any other pro- 
vision—when the tune came for the gentleman to go 
home.' His little yellow face, all crumpled as though 
it had been squeezed together, expressed the most 
anxious, eager avarice. His voice whined coaxingly, * No 
more trouble — ^natural guardian — a sum of money. . . .' 
''I stood there and marvelled. That kind of thing, 
with him, was evidently a vocation. I discovered 
suddenly in his cringing attitude a sort of assurance, as 
though he had been all his life dealing in certitudes. He 
must have thought I was dispassionately considering his 
proposal, because he became as sweet as honey. 'Every 
gentleman made a provision when the time came to go 
home,' he began, insinuatingly. I slammed the Uttle 
gate. *In this case, Mr. Cornelius,' I said, 'the time 
shall never come.' He took a few seconds to gather 
this in. 'What!' he fairly squealed. 'Why,' I con- 
tinued from my side of the gate, 'haven't you heard 
him say so himself? He will never go home.' 'Oh! 
this is too much,' he shouted. He would not address 
me as 'honoured sir' any more. He was very still 
for a time, and then without a trace of humility began 
very low. 'Never go — ah! He — ^he — ^he comes here 
devil knows from where — comes here — devil knows 
why — ^to trample on me till I die — ah — ^trample' (he 
stamped softly with both feet), 'trample like this — ^no- 
body knows why — ^till I die. . . .' His voice be- 
came quite extinct; he was bothered by a little cough; 
he came up close to the fence and told me, dropping 


into a confidential and piteous tone, that he would not 
be trampled upon. * Patience — ^patience/ he muttered, 
striking his breast. I had done laughing at him, but 
unexpectedly he treated me to a wild cracked burst of it. 
*Ha! ha! ha! We shall see! We shall see! What! 
Steal from me? Steal from me everything! Every- 
thing! Everything!' His head drooped on one shoulder, 
his hands were hanging before him lightly clasped. 
One would have thought he had cherished the girl with 
surpassing love, that his spirit had been crushed and 
his heart broken by the most cruel of spoliations. ^ *^^ 
Suddenly he lifted his head and shot out an infamous 
word. *Like her mother — she is like her deceitful 
mother, Exactly. In her face, too. In her face. The\ 
^evil!' He leaned his forehead against the fence, and^ 
in that position uttered threats and horrible blasphemies 
in Portuguese in very weak ejaculations, mingled with 
miserable plaints and groans, coming out with a heave 
of the shoulders as though he had been overtaken by a 
deadly fit of sickness. It was an inexpressibly grotesque 
and vile performance, and I hastened away. He tried 
to shout something after me. Some disparagement of 
Jim, I believe — not too loud though, we were too near 
the house. All I heard distinctly was, *No more than a^ 
little child— a little child.' " ^ 



But next mommg» at the first bend of the river 
shutting off the houses of Fatusan, all this dropped 
out of my sight bodily, with its colour, its design, and 
its meaning, like a picture created by fancy on a canvas, 
upon which, after long contemplation, you turn your 
back for the last time. It remains in the memory 
motionless, unfaded, with its life arrested, in an un- 
changing light. There are the ambitions, the fears, the 
hate, the hopes, and they remain in my mind just as I 
had seen them — ^intense and as if for ever suspended in 
their expression. I had turned away from the picture 
and was going back to the world where events move, 
men change, light flickers, life flows in a clear stream, no 
matter whether over mud or over stones. I wasn't go- 
ing to dive into it; I would have enough to do to keep 
my head above the surface. But as to what I was leav- 
ing behind, I cannot imagine any alteration. The 
immense and magnanimous Doramin and his little 
motherly witch of a wife, gazing together upon the land 
and nursing secretly their dreams of parental ambition; 
Tunku Allang, wizened and greatly perplexed; Dain 
Waris, intelligent and brave, with his faith in Jim, with 
his firm glance and his ironic friendliness; the girl, 
absorbed in her frightened, suspicious adoration; 
Tamb* Itam, surly and faithful; Cornelius, leaning his 
forehead against the fence under the moonlight — I am 
certain of them. They exist as if under an enchanter's 
wand. But the figure round which all these are grouped 
— ^that one lives, and I am not certain of him. No 



magician's wand can immobilise him under my eyes. 
He is one of us. 

"Jim, as iVe told you, accompanied me on the first 
stage of my journey back to the world he had renounced, 
and the way at times seemed to lead through the very 
heart of untouched wilderness. The empty reaches 
sparkled under the high sun; between the high walls of 
vegetation the heat drowsed upon the water, and the 
boat, impelled vigorously, cut her way through the air 
that seemed to have settled dense and warm under the 
shelter of lofty trees. 

"'The shadow of the impending separation had 
already put an immense space between us, and when 
we spoke it was with an effort, as if to force our low 
voices across a vast and increasing distance. The boat 
fairly flew; we sweltered side by side in the stagnant 
superheated air; the smell of mud, of marsh, the 
primeval smell of fecund earth, seemed to sting our 
faces; till suddenly at a bend it was as if a great hand 
far away had lifted a heavy curtain, had flung open an 
immense portal. The light itself seemed to stir, the 
sky above our heads widened, a far-off murmur reached 
our ears, a freshness enveloped us, filled our lungs, 
quickened our thoughts, our blood, our regrets — ^and, 
straight ahead, the forests sank down against the dark- 
blue ridge of the sea. 

"I breathed deeply, I revelled in the vastness of the 
opened horizon, in the different atmosphere that seemed 
to vibrate with a toil of life, with the energy of an im- 
peccable world. This sky and this sea were open to 
me. The girl was right — there was a sign, a call in 
them — something to which I responded with every 
fibre of my being. I let my eyes roam through space, 
like a man released from bonds who stretches his 
cramped limbs, runs, leaps, responds to the inspiring 


elation of freedom. ^This is glorious!' I cried, and 
then I looked at the sinner by my side. He sat with 
his head sunk on his breast and said ^Yes/ without 
raising his eyes, as if afraid to see writ large on the clear 
sky of the offing the reproach of his romantic conscience. 
^'I remember the smallest details of that afternoon. 
We landed on a bit of white beach. It was backed by a 
low cliflF wooded on the brow, draped in creepers to the 
very foot. Below us the plain of the sea, of a serene 
and intense blue, stretched with a slight upward tilt to 
the thread-like horizon drawn at the height of our eyes. 
Great waves of gUtter blew lightly along the pitted dark 
surface, as swift as feathers chased by the breeze. A 
chain of islands sat broken and massive facing the wide 
estuary, displayed in a sheet of pale glassy water re- 
flecting faithfully the contour of the shore. High in 
the colourless sunshine a solitary bird, all black, 
hovered, dropping and soaring above the same spot with 
a slight rocking motion of the wings. A ragged, sooty 
bunch of flimsy mat hovels was perched over its own 
inverted image upon a crooked multitude of high piles 
the coloiu* of ebony. A tiny black canoe put off from 
amongst them with two tiny men, all black, who toiled 
exceedingly, striking down at the pale water: and the 
canoe seemed to slide painfully on a mirror. This 
bunch of miserable hovels was the fishing village that 
boasted of the white lord's especial protection, and the 
two men crossing over were the old headman and his 
son-in-law. They landed and walked up to us on the 
white sand, lean, dark-brown a^ if dried in smoke, with 
ashy patches on the skin of their naked shoulders and 
breasts. Their heads were bound in dirty but carefully 
folded handkerchiefs, and the old man began at once to 
state a complaint, voluble, stretching a lank arm, 
screwing up at Jim his old bleared eyes confidently. 


The Rajah's people would not leave them alone; there 
had been some trouble about a lot of turtles' eggs his 
people had collected on the islets there — and leaning at 
arm's-length upon his paddle, he pointed with a brown 
skinny hand over the sea. Jim listened for a time with- 
out looking up, and at last told him gently to wait. He 
would hear him by-and-by. They withdrew obediently 
to some little distance, and sat on their heels, with their 
paddles lying before them on the sand; the silvery 
gleams in their eyes followed our movements patiently; 
and the inmiensity of the outspread sea, the stillness of 
the coast, passing north and south beyond the limits of 
my vision, made up one colossal Presence watching us 
four dwarfs isolated on a strip of glistening sand. 

"*The trouble is,' remarked Jim, moodily, *that for 
generations these b^gars of fishermen in that village 
there had been considered as the Rajah's personal slaves 
— and the old rip can't get it into his head that . . .* 

"He paused. *That you have changed all that,' I 

"'Yes. I've changed all that,' he muttered in a 
gloomy voice. 

"*You have had your opportimity,' I pursued. 

" 'Had I? ' he said. 'Well, yes. I suppose so. Yes. 
I have got back my confidence in myself — a good name- 
yet sometimes I wish . . . No ! I shall hold what 
I've got. Can't expect anything more.' He flung his 
arm out towards the sea. 'Not out there anyhow.' He 
stamped his foot upon the sand. ' This is my limit, be- 
cause nothing less will do.' 

"We continued pacing the beach. 'Yes, I've 
changed all that,' he went on, with a sidelong glance 
at the two patient squatting fishermen; 'but only try to 
think what it would be if I went away. Jove ! can't you 
see it? Hell loose. No! To-morrow I shall go and 


take my chance of drinking that silly old Tunku Allang's 
coffee, and I shall make no end of fuss over these rotten 
turtles' eggs. No. I can't say — enough. Never. I 
must go on, go on for ever holding up my end, to feel 
sure that nothing can touch me. I must stick to their 
belief in me to feel safe and to — ^to' . . • He cast 
about for a word, seemed to look for it on the sea • • . 
^to keep in touch with' • • • His voice sank sud- 
denly to a murmur • • . 'with those whom, per- 
haps, I shall never see any more. With — ^with — ^you, 
for instance.' 

"I was profoundly humbled by his words. Tor 
God's sake,' I said, Mon't set me up, my dear fellow; 
just look to yourself.' I felt a gratitude, an affection, 
for that straggler whose eyes had singled me out, keep- 
ing my place in the ranks of an insignificant multitude. 
How little that was to boast of, after all ! I turned my 
burning face away; under the low sun, glowing, dark- 
ened and crimson, like an ember snatched from the fire, 
the sea lay outspread, offering all its immense stillness to 
the approach of the fiery orb. Twice he was going to 
speak, but checked himself: at last, as if he had found a 
formula — 

"*I shall be faithful,' he said, quietly. *I shall be 
faithful,' he repeated, without looking at me, but for 
the first time letting his eyes wander upon the waters, 
whose blueness had changed to a gloomy purple under 
the fires of sunset. Ah! he was romantic, romantic. 
il recalled some words of Stein's. ... 'In the 
^^ ^ destructive element immerse ! ... To follow the 
dream, and again to follow the dream — ^and so — always 
— usque ad finem . . .' He was romantic, but 
n one th e les s true . Who could tell what forms, what 
vSonsTVhat faces, what forgiveness he could see in 
the glow of the west! ... A small boat, leaving 



the schooner, moved slowly, with a regular beat of two 
oars, towards the sandbank to take me off. 'And then 
there's Jewel/ he said, out of the great silence of earth, 
sky, and sea, which had mastered my very thoughts so 
that his voice made me start. 'There's Jewel.' * Yes,' 
I murmured. 'I need not tell you what she is to me,' he 
pursued. 'You've seen. In time she will come to 
understand . . .* 'I hope so,' I interrupted. 'She 
trusts me, too,' he mused, and then changed his tone. 
'When shall we meet next, I wonder?' he said. 

" 'Never — ^unless you come out,' I answered, avoiding 
his glance. He didn't seem to be surprised; he kept 
very quiet for a while. 

^ 'G f ood by e^-lhgn,' he said, after a* pause. 'Perhaps Jf 
it's just as well.* 

"We shook hands, and I walked to the boat, which 
waited with her nose on the beach. The schooner, 
her mainsail set and jib-sheet to windward, curveted on 
the purple sea; there was a rosy tinge on her sails. 
'Will you be going home again soon?' asked Jim, just as 
I swung my leg over the gunwale. 'In a year or so if I 
live,' I said. The forefoot grated on the sand, the boat 
floated, the wet oars flashed and dipped once, twice. 
Jim, at the water's edge, raised his voice. 'Tell 
them . . .' he began. I signed to the men to 
cease rowing, and waited in wonder. Tell who? 
The half -submerged sun faced him; I could see its red 
gleam in his eyes that looked dumbly at me. • . . 
'No — nothing,' he said, and with a slight wave of his 
hand motioned the boat away. I did not look again 
at the shore till I had clambered on board the schooner. 

"By that time the sun had set. The twilight lay 
over the east, and the coast, turned black, extended 
infinitely its sombre wall that seemed the very strong- 
hold of the night; the western horizon was one great 


blaze of gold and crimson in which a big detached cloud 
floated dark and still, casting a slaty shadow on the 
water beneath, and I saw Jim on the beach watching 
the schooner fall off and gather headway. 

"'The two half -naked fishermen had arisen as soon 
as I had gone; they were no doubt pouring the plaint 
of their trifling, miserable, oppressed Uves into the 
ears of the white lord, and no doubt he was listening to 
it, making it his own, for was it not a part of his luck — 
the luck *from the word Go' — ^the luck to which he had 
assured me he was so completely equal? They, too, I 
should think, were in luck, and I was sure their perti- 
nacity would be equal to it. Their dark-skinned bodies 
vanished on the dark background long before I had lost 
sight of their protector. He was white from head to 
foot, and remained persistently visible with the strong- 
hold of the night at his back, the sea at his feet, the 
opportunity by his side — still veiled. What do you 
say? Was it still veiled? I don't know. For me that 
whit^ figure in the stillness of coast and sea seemed to 
stand at the heart of a vast enigma. The twilight was 
ebbing fast from the sky above his head, the strip of 
sand had sunk already under his feet, he himself ap- 
peared no bigger than a child — ^then only a speck, a tiny 
white speck, that seemed to catch all the light left in a 
darkened world. . . . And, suddenly, I lost him. . . ." 



With these words Marlow had ended his narrative, 
and his audience had broken up forthwith, under his 
abstract, pensive gaze. Men drifted oflf the verandah 
in pairs or alone without loss of time, without oflFering 
a remark, as if the last image of that incomplete story, 
its incompleteness itself, and the very tone of the 
speaker, had made discussion vain and comment im- 
possible. Each of them seemed to carry away his own 
impression, to carry it away with him like a secret; 
but/tfiere^as only one man of all these listenefs wlia 
was eyer-tojjear the iM^Jgoid of the stot;^/" It came to 
Km at home, more than two years later, and it came 
contained in a thick packet a ddressed inMailow^^i up* 
rj^hj fl,nd angnTar-Wi^i: 

The privileged man opened the packet, looked in, 
then, laying it down, went to the window. His rooms 
were in the highest flat of a lofty building, and his glance 
could travel afar beyond the clear panes of glass, as 
though he were looldng out of the lantern of a Kght- 
house. The slopes of the roofs glistened, the dark 
broken ridges succeeded each other without end like 
sombre, uncrested waves, and from the depths of the 
town under his feet ascended a confused and unceasing 
mutter. The spires of churches, numerous, scattered 
haphazard, uprose like beacons on a maze of shoals 
without a channel; the driving rain mingled with the 
falling dusk of a winter*s evening; and the booming 
of a big clock on a tower striking the hour, rolled 
past in voluminous, austere bursts of sound, with a 




shrill vibrating cry at the core. He drew the heavy 

The light of his shaded reading-lamp slept like a 
sheltered pool, his footfalls made no sound on the carpet, 
his wandering days were over. No more horizons as 
boundless as hope, no more twilights within the forests 
as solemn as temples, in the hot quest of the Ever-un- 
discovered Country over the hill, across the stream, 
beyond the wave. The hour was striking! No more! 
No more! — ^but the opened packet under the lamp 
brought back the sounds, the visions, the very savour of 
the past — ^a multitude of fading faces, a tumult of low 
voices, dying away upon the shores of distant seas under 
a passionate and unconsoling sunshine. He sighed and 
sat down to read. 

At first he saw three distinct enclosures. A good 
many pages closely blackened and pinned together; 
a loose square sheet of greyish paper with a few words 
traced in a handwriting he had never seen before, and 
an explanatory letter from Marlow. From this last 
fell ancf^r letter, yellowed by time and frayed on the 
folda«. jHe picked it up and, laying it aside, turned to 
Marlow's message, ran swiftly over the opening lines, 
and, checking himself, thereafter read on deliberately, 
like one approaching with slow feet and alert eyes the 
glimpse of an undiscovered country. 

" . . . I don't suppose youVe forgotten," went on 
the letter. "You alone have showed a,iiisLterest in him 
that survived the telling, olliis story, UioughTTrc? 
member well yoiijipettWl not admit he had mastered his 
fate. You^lj)gfiesied for him the disaster of weariness 
and of disgust with acquired honour, with the self- 
appointed task,* with the love sprung from pity and 
youth. You had said you knew so well *that kind of 
thing,' its illusQry satisfaction, its unavoidable de- 

('-" ^' '' '' \ ' \ 


ception. You said also — I call to mind — that ^giYiagi. 
ypjuJiifeLUp to theni'^(Z&ep» m e a ni ng aU oimankind witbi 
skins brown, yellow, or black in colour) *was like selling 1 
"your soul lo a brute. You contended that Hhat kind^ 
cjf thing' was only enduraHe and enduring when based 
on a firm conviction inifne truth of ideas racially our 1 ^ 
own, in whose name are established the order, the \ ^ 
morality of an ethical progregay *We want its strength 
at our backs,' you had said. *We want a belief in its 
necessity and its justice, to make a worthy and con- 
scious sacrifice of our lives. Without it the sacrifice is 
only forgetfulness, the way of offering is no better than 
the way to perdition.' In other words, you maintained 
that we must fight in the ranks or our lives don't count. 
Possibly! You ought to know — ^be it said without 
malice — ^you who have rushed into one or two places 
single-handed and came out cleverly, without singeinj 
your wings. The point, however, is that of all man- 
km^^Jiia-hadna dealings but. with himseSi, and the I 4 
question is whether at the last he had not confessed to a 
faith mightier than the laws of order and progress. 

"I affirm nothing. Perhaps you may pronounce 
— after you've read. There is much truth — after all — 
in the conunon expression 'under a cloud.' It is im- 
possible to see him clearly — especially as it is through 
the eyes of others that we take our last look at him. 1 
have no hesitation in imparting to you all I know of the 
last episode that, as he used to say, had *come to him.' 
One wonders whether this was perhaps that supreme 
opportunity, that last and satisfying test for which I 
had always suspected him to be waiting, before he could 
frame a message to the impeccable world. You re- 
member that when I was leaving him for the last time he 
had asked whether I would be going home soon, and 
suddenly cried after me, *Tell them!' ... I had 



waited — curious I'll own, and hopeful, too — only to hear 
him shout, *No. Nothing/ That was all then — and 
there shall be nothing more; there shall be no message, 
Jtnless such as eaxjh of us can interpret for himself from 
the language of facts, that are so often more enigmatic 
. wl^ Vihan the craftiest arrangement of words. JBSumde, it 
^ f" is true, one more attempt to delive¥'tiim§felf; but that^ 
too, failed, as you may perceive if you look at the sheet- 
of greyish foolscap enclosed here. He had tried to 
write; do you. notice the conamonplace handf^ris 
headed *The Fort, Patusan.* I suppose hehad carried 
^ out his intention of making out of his house a place of 
defence. It was an excellent plan: a deep ditch, an 
earth wall topped by a palisade, and at the angles guns 
mounted on platforms to sweep each side of the square. 
Doramin had agreed to furnish him the guns; and so 
each man of his party would know there was a place of 
safety, upon which every faithful partisan could rally 
in case of some sudden danger. All this showed his 
judicious foresight, his faith in the future. What he 
called *my own people' — the liberated captives of the 
Sherif — were to make a distinct quarter of Patusan, 
with their huts and little plots of ground under the 
walls of the stronghold. Within he would be an in- 
vincible host in himself. 'The Fort, Patusan.' No 
date, as you observe. What is a number and a name to 
a day of days? It is also impossible to say whom he had 
in his mind when he seized the pen: Stein — ^myself — 
the world at large — or was this only the aimless startled 
cry of a solitary man confronted by his fate? * An awful 
thing has happened,' he wrote before he flung the pen 
down for the first time; look at the ink blot resembling 
t|;^p >i,f flfi of f^n s^YT^Yf under these words. After a while 
he had tried again, scrawling heavily, as if with a hand 
of lead, another line. *I must now at once • . .' 


/ Thi^ p^Tt )t^^ °pT'it^f*rHj and that time he gave it up. ^ 
There's nothing more; he had seen a broad gulf that 
neither eye nor voice could span. I can understand 

/ destiny wW^hineliaxf done Tils best id master. C 

**I send you also an old telfeiP^'v©^^ It 

was found carefully preserved in his writing-case. It 
is f rom hi s father, and by the date you can see he must 
have received" itTrfeW days before he joined the Patna. 
Thus it must be the last letter he ever had from home. 
He had treasured it all these years. The good old par- 
son fancied his sailor-son. I've looked in at a sentence 
here and there. There is nothing in it except just 
affection. He tells his Mear James' that the last long 
letter from him was very * honest and entertaining.' He 
would not have him 'judge men harshly or hastily.' 
There are four pages of it, easy morality and family 
news. Tom had 'taken orders.' Carrie's husband had 
'money losses.' The old chap goes on equably trust- 
ing Providence and the established order of the universe, 
but alive to its small dangers and its small mercies. 
One can almost see him, grey-haired and serene in the 
inviolable shelter of his book-lined, faded, and com- 
fortable study, where for forty years he had consci- 
entiously gone over and over again the round of his 
little thoughts about faith and virtue, about the con- 
duct of life and the only proper manner of dying; where 
he had written so many sermons, where he sits talking 
to his boy, over there, on the other side of the earth. 
But what of the distance? Virtue is one all over the 
world, and there is only one faith, one conceivable con- 
duct of life, one manner of dying. He hopes his 'dear 
James' will never forget that 'who once gives way to 
temptation, in the very instant hazards his total de- 



pravity and everlasting ruin. Therefore resolve fixedly 
never, through any possible motives, to do anything 
which you believe to be wrong/ There is also some 
news of a favourite dog; and a pony, 'which all you 
boys used to ride,' had gone blind from old age and had 
to be shot. The old chap invokes Heaven's blessing; 
the mother and all the girls then at home send their 
love. . • . No, there is nothing much in that 
yellow frayed letter fluttering out of his cherishing 
grasp after so many years. It was never answered, but 
who can say what converse he may have held with all 
these placid, colourless forms of men and women 
peopling that quiet comer of the world as free of danger 
or strife as a tomb, and breathing equably the air of 
undisturbed rectitude. It seems amazing that he 
should belong to it, he to whom so many things 'had 
come.' Nothing ever came to them; they would never 
be taken unawares, and never be called upon to grapple 
with fate. ) Here they all are, evoked by the mild gossip 

■ of the father, all these brothers and sisters, bone of his 
bone and flesh of his flesh, gazing with clear unconscious 
eyes, while I seem to see him, returned at last, no longer 
a mere white speck at the heart of an immense mystery, 
but of full stature, standing disregarded amongst their 
untroubled shapes, with a stem and romantic aspect, 
but always mute, dark — ^under a cloud. 

"The story of the last events you shall find in the 
few pages enclosed here. You must admit that it is 
romantic beyond, the wildest dreams of hish- boyhood, 
and yet there is to my mind a sort of profound and 

rterriFying logic in it, as if it ^*^^*^ ^V^ JTIflgfr^^^^^ "^^nfi,^ 
that could set loose upon us tke might of an over- 
whelming destiny. The imprudence of our thoughts \^ 
recoils upon our heads; who toys with tte sword^sKall 
perish by the sword. iTiis astounding adventure, of 


which the most astounding part is that it is true, comes 
on as an unavoidable consequence. Something of the 
>SQrt had to happen. You repeat this to yourself while 
you marvel that such a thing could happen in the year 
of grace before last. But it has happened — ^and there is 
no disputing its logic. 

"I put it down here for you as though I had been 
an eyewitness. My information was fragmentary, 
but I've fitted the pieces together, and there is enough 
of them to make an intelligible picture. I wonder 
how he would have related it himself. He has confided 
so much in me that at times it seems as though he must 
come in presently and tell the story in his own words, in 
his careless yet feeling voice, with his offhand manner, a 
little puzzled, a little bothered, a little hurt, but now 
and tien by a word or a phrase giving one of these 
glimpses of his very own self that were never any good 
for purposes of orientation. It's diflScult to believe he 
will never come. I shall never hear his voice again, nor 
shall I see his smooth tan-and-pink face with a white 
Kne on the forehead, and the youthful eyes darkened by 
excitement to a profound, unfathomable blue." 



"It all begins with a remarkable exploit of a man 
called Brown, who stole with complete success a 
Spanish schooner out of a small bay near Zamboanga. 
Till I discovered the fellow my information was in- 
complete, but most unexpectedly I did come upon him 
a few hours before he gave up his arrogant ghost. 
Fortunately he was wiUing and able to talk between 
the choking fits of asthma, and his racked body writhed 
with malicious exultation at the bare thought of Jim. 
He exulted thus at the idea that he had ^paid out the 
stuck-up beggar after all/ He gloated over his action. 
I had to bear the sunken glare of his fierce crow-footed 
eyes if I wanted to know; and so I bore it, reflecting 
how much certain forms of evil are akin to madness, 
derived from intense egoism, inflamed by resistance, 
tearing the soul to pieces, and giving factitious vigour 
to the body. The story also reveals unsuspected depths 
of cunning in the wretched Cornelius, whose abject and 
intense hate acts like a subtle inspiration, pointing out 
an unerring way towards revenge. 

"*I could see directly I set my eyes on him wl^tfiMg«t 
of a fool he was,' gasped thfi^ying Brown. *He a P^a^^' 
Hell! He was a hollow ^ham. ) As if he coiddn't have 
said straight out, "Hands'^jfiHny plunder!" blast him! 
That would have been like a man! Rot his superior 
soul ! He had me there — but he hadn't devil enough in 
him to make an end of me. Not he ! A thing like that 
letting me off as if I wasn't worth a kick! . . .' 
Brown struggled desperately for breath. . • • * Fraud. 



. . . Letting me off. . • • And so I did make 
an end of him after all. . • .' cHe"^ choked again.^ 
. . . *I expect this thing'U kill me, iDut I shall "die 
easy now. You . . . you hear ... I don't 
know your name — ^I would give you a five-pound note 
if — ^if I had it — ^for the news — or my name's not Brown. 
. • .' He grinned horribly. . . . 'Gentleman 

*'He said all these things in profound gasps, staring 
at me with his yellow eyes out of a long, ravaged brown 
face; he jerked his left arm; a pepper-and-salt matted 
beard hung almost into his lap; a dirty ragged blanket 
covered his legs. I had found him out in Bangkok 
through that busybody Schomberg, the hotelkeeper, 
who had, confidentially, directed me where to look. It 
appears that a sort of loafing, fuddled vagabond — ^a 
white man living amongst the natives with a Siamese 
woman — ^had considered it a great privilege to give a 
shelter to the last days of the famous Gentleman 
Brown. While he was talking to me in the wretched 
hovel, and, as it were, fighting for every minute of his 
life, the Siamese woman, with big bare legs and a stupid 
coarse face, sat in a dark comer chewing betel stolidly. 
Now and then she would get up for the purpose of 
shooing a chicken away from the door. The whole hut 
shook when she walked. An ugly yellow child, naked 
and pot-bellied like a little heathen god, stood at the 
foot of the couch, finger in mouth, lost in a profound and 
calm contemplation of the dying man. 

"He talked feverishly; but in the middle of a word, 
perhaps, an invisible hand would take him by the 
throat, and he would look at me dui^bly with an ex- 
pression of doubt and angui3h. He seemed to fear that 
I would get tired of waiting and go away, leaving him 
with his tale untold, with his exultation unexpressed. 


He died during the night, I believe, but by that time 
I had nothing more to learn. 

So much as to Brown, for the present. 
Eight months before this, coming into Samarang, 
I went as usual to see Stein. On the garden side of 
the house a Malay on the verandah greeted me shyly, 
and I remembered that I had seen him in Fatusan, in 
Jim's house, amongst other Bugis men who used to 
come in the evening to talk interminably over their war 
reminiscences and to discuss State affairs. Jim had 
pointed him out to me once as a respectable petty 
trader owning a small seagoing native craft, who had 
showed himself *one of the best at the taking of the 
stockade.' I was not very surprised to see him, since 
any Fatusan trader venturing as far as Samarang would 
naturally find his way to Stein's house. I returned his 
greeting and passed on. At the door of Stein's room 
I came upon another Malay in whom I recognized 
Tamb' Itam. 

"I asked him at once what he was doing there; it 
occurred to me that Jim might have come on a visit. 
I own I was pleased and excited at the thought. Tamb* 
Itam looked as if he did not know what to say, *Is 
Tuan Jim inside?' I asked, impatiently. *No,' he 
mumbled, hanging his head for a moment, and then with 
sudden earnestness, *He would not fight. He would not 
fight,' he repeated twice. As he seemed unable to say 
anything else, I pushed him aside and went in. 

"Stein, tall and stooping, stood alone in the middle 
of the room between the rows of butterfly cases. ^AchJ 
is it you, my friend?' he said, sadly, peering through his 
glasses. A drab sack-coat of alpaca hung, unbuttoned, 
down to his knees. He had a Fanama hat on his 
head, and there were deep furrows on his pale cheeks. 
* What's the matter now? ' I asked, nervously. * There's 


Tamb* Itam there. . • / *Come and see the girl. 
Come and see the girl. She is here/ he said, with a 
half-hearted show of activity. I tried to detain him, 
but with gentle obstinacy he would take no notice of my 
eager questions. *She is here, she is here,' he re- 
peated, in great perturbation. *They came here two 
days ago. An old man like me, a stranger — sehen Sie — 
cannot do much. • . . Come this way. . . . 
Young hearts are unforgiving. . • .* I could see he 
was in utmost distress. . . . *The strength of life 
in them, the cruel strength of life. . . J He 
mumbled, leading me round the house; I followed him, 
lost in dismal and angry conjectures. At the door of 
the drawing-room he barred my way. *He loved her 
very much?' he said interrogatively, and I only nodded, 
feeling so bitterly disappointed that I would not trust 
myself to speak. *Very frightful,' he murmured. 
'She can't understand me. I am only a strange old 
man. Perhaps you . . . she knows you. Talk to 
her. We can't leave it like this. Tell her to forgive 
him. It was very frightful.' *No doubt,' I said, 
exasperated at being in the dark; *but have you for- 
given him?' He looked at me queerly. *You shall 
hear,' he said, and opening the door, absolutely pushed 
me in. 

"You know Stein's big house and the two immense 
reception-rooms, uninhabited and uninhabitable, clean, 
full of soUtude and of shining things that look as if 
never beheld by the eye of man? They are cool on 
the hottest days, and you enter them as you would a 
scrubbed cave underground. I passed through one, 
and in the other I saw the girl sitting at the end of a big 
mahogany table, on which she rested her head, the face 
hidden in her arms. The waxed floor reflected her 
dimly as though it had been a sheet of frozen water. 






The rattan screens were down, and through the strange 
greenish gloom made by the foliage of the trees outside, 
a strong wind blew in gusts, swaying the long draperies 
of windows and doorways. Her white figure seemed 
shaped in snow; the pendent crystals of a great chande- 
lier clicked above her head like glittering icicles. She 
looked up and watched my approach. I was chilled as if 
these vast apartments had been the cold abode of despair. 

^'She recognised me at once, and as soon as I had 
stopped, looking down at her: 'He has left me,' she 
said, quietly; *you always leave us — ^for your own ends.' 
Her face was set. All the heat of life seemed with- 
drawn within some inaccessible spot in her breast. 
*It would have been easy to die with him,' she went on, 
and made a slight yireary gesture as if giving up the 
-nneomprehensible. / 'He would not! It was like a 
blindness — and yet it was I who was speaking to him; 
it was I who stood before his eyes; it was at me that he 
looked all the time! Ah! you are hard, treacherous, 
without truth, without compassion. What makes you 
so wicked? Or is it that you are all mad?' 

"I took her hand; it did not respond, and when I 
dropped it, it hung down to the floor. That indifference, 
more awful than tears, cries, and reproaches, seemed to 
defy time and consolation. You felt that nothing you 
could say would reach the seat of the still and be- 
numbing pain. 

"Stein had said, 'You shall hear.' I did hear. I 
heard it all, listening with amazement, with awe, to the 
tones of her inflexible weariness. She could not grasp 
the real sense of what she was telling me, and her re- 
sentment filled me with pity for her — ^for him, too. I 
stood rooted to the spot after she had finished. Lean- 
ing on her arm, she stared with hard eyes, and the wind 
passed in gusts, the crystals kept on clicking in the 


greenish gloom. She went on whispering to herself: 
*And yet he was looking at me! He could see my face, 
hear my voice, hear my grief! When I used to sit at his 
feet, with my cheek against his knee and his hand on my 
head, the curse of cruelty and madness was already 
within him, waiting for the day. The day came ! . . . 
and before the sun had set he could not see me any more 
— ^he was made blind and deaf and without pity, as 
you all are. He shall have no tears from me. Never, 
never. Not one tear. I will not! He went away 
from me as if I had been worse than dqath. flSe Heff / 
as if driven by some accursed thing he had heard or / 
seen in his sleep. . . .* - — '-^' 

"Her steady eyes seemed to strain after the shape of 
a man torn out of her arms by the strength of a dream. 
She made no sign to my silent bow. I was glad to escape. 

"I saw her once again, the same afternoon. On 
leaving her I had gone in search of Stein, whom I could 
not find indoors; and I wandered out, pursued by 
distressful thoughts, into the gardens, those famous 
gardens of Stein, in which you can find every plant and 
tree of tropical lowlands. I followed the course of the 
canalised stream, and sat for a long time on a shaded 
bench near the ornamental pond, where some waterfowl 
with clipped wings were diving and splashing noisily. 
The branches of casuarina-trees behind me swayed 
lightly, incessantly, reminding me of the soughing of 
fir-trees at home. 

"This mournful and restless sound WjftsJi fit^iM^^ 
paniment to my meditations. $$he had saidT he had 
been driven away froHrHfef b7T^ream,-and there waa 
no answer one could make her— there seemed to be no ^ 
forgiveness for such t^^transjgjessi^ And yet is not .■ J 
mankind itself, pushing oh its blind way, driven by a ; ^ 
dream of its greatness and its power upon the dark \ 

^aA\ ct 


/ paths of excessive cruelty and of excessive devotion. 
And what is the pursuit of truth, after all? 

"When I rose to get back to the house I caught sight 
of Stein's drab coat through a gap in the foliage, and 
very soon at a turn of the path I came upon him walking 
with the girl. Her little hand rested on his forearm, 
and under the broad, flat rim of his Panama hat he bent 
over her, greyhaired, paternal, with compassionate and 
chivalrous deference. I stood aside, but they stopped, 
facing me. His gaze was bent on the ground at his 
feet; the girl, erect and slight on his arm, stared som- 
brely beyond my shoulder with black, clear, motionless 
eyes. * Schrecklich,^ he murmured. 'Terrible! Terrible! 
What can one do?' He seemed to be appealing to me, 
but her youth, the length of the days suspended over 
her head, appealed to me more; and suddenly, even as 
I realized that nothing could be said, I found myself 
pleading his cause for her sake. 'You must forgive 
him,' I concluded, and my own voice seemed to me 
muffled, lost in an irresponsive deaf immensity. 'We 
all want to be forgiven,' I added after a while. 

"'What have I done?' she asked with her lips only. 

"'You always mistrusted him,' I said. 

"'He was like the others,' she pronounced slowly. 

"'Not like the others,' I protested, but she continued 
evenly, without any feeling — 

"'He was false.' And suddenly Stein broke in. 
' No ! no ! no ! My poor child ! . . .' He patted her 
hand lying passively on his sleeve. 'No! no! Not 
false! True! true! true!' He tried to look into her 
stony face. 'You don't understand. AchI Why you 
do not imderstand? . . . Terrible,' he said to me. 
'Some day she shall imderstand.' 

"'Will you explain?' I asked, looking hard at him. 
They moved on. 


"I watched them. Her gown trailed on the path, her 
black hair fell loose. She walked upright and light by 
the side of the tall man, whose long shapeless coat hung 
in perpendicular folds from the stooping shoulders, 
whose feet moved slowly. They disappeared beyond 
that spinney (you may remember) where sixteen dif- 
ferent kinds of bamboo grow together, aU distinguish- 
able to the learned eye. For my part, I was fascinated 
by the exquisite grace and beauty of that fluted grove, 
crowned with pointed leaves and feathery heads, the 
lightness, the vigour, the charm as distinct as a voice of 
that unperplexed luxuriating life. I remember staying 
to look at it for a long time, as one would linger within 
reach of a consoling whisper. The sky was pearly grey. 
It was one of those overcast days so rare in the tropics, 
in which memories crowd upon one, memories of other 
shores, of other faces. 

"I drove back to town the same afternoon, taking 
with me Tamb' Itam and the other Malay, in whose 
seagoing craft they had escaped in the bewilderment, 
fear, and gloom of the disaster. The shock of it seemed 
to have changed their natures. It had turned her pas- 
sion into stone, and it made the surly taciturn Tamb' 
Itam almost loquacious. His surliness, too, was sub- 
dued into puzzled humility, as though he had seen the 
failure of a potent charm in a supreme moment. The 
Bugis trader, a shy hesitating man, was very clear in 
the little he had to say. Both were evidently over- 
awed by a sense of deep inexpressible wonder, by the 
touch of an inscrutable mysteiy." ' 

There with Marlow's signature the letter proper 
ended. The privileged reader screwed up his lamp, and 
solitary above the billowy roofs of the town, like a 
lighthouse-keeper above the sea, he turned to the pages 
of the story. 

•/■ . ■'■ ■ 1 


"It all begins, as IVe told you, with the man called 
Brown," ran the opening sentence of MarIow*s narra- 
tive. "You who have knocked about the Western 
Pacific must have heard of him. He was the show 
ruflSan on the Australian coast — ^not that he was often 
to be seen there, but because he was always trotted out 
in the stories of lawless life a visitor from home is 
treated to; and the mildest of these stories which were 
told about him from Cape York to Eden Bay was more 
than enough to hang a man if told in the right place. 
They never failed to let you know, too, that he was 
supposed to be the son of a baronet. Be it as it may, it 
is certain he had deserted from a home ship in the early 
gold-digging days, and in a few years became talked 
about as the terror of this or that group of islands in 
Polynesia. He would kidnap natives, he would strip 
some lonely white trader to the very pyjamas he stood 
in, and after he had robbed the poor devil, he would as 
likely as not invite him to fight a duel with shot-guns 
on the beach — which would have been fair enough as 
these things go, if the other man hadn't been by that 
time already half-dead with fright. Brown was a 
latter-day buccaneer, sorry enough, like his more 
celebrated prototypes; but what distinguished him 
from his contemporary brother ruffians, like Bully 
Hayes or the mellifluous Pease, or that perfumed, 
Dundreary-whiskered, dandified scoundrel known as 
Dirty Dick, was the arrogant temper of . bis misdeeds 
andfa vehement scorn for mankind at large fuid for his 


rge |ui4 


victims in particular. The others were merely vulgar 
and greedy brutes, but he seemed moved by some com- 
plex intention. He would rob a man as if only to 
demonstrate his poor opinion of the creature, and he 
would bring to the shooting or maiming of some quiet, 
unoffending stranger a savage and vengeful earnestness 
fit to terrify the most reckless of desperadoes. In the 
days of his greatest glory he owned an armed barque, 
manned by a mixed crew of Kanakas and runaway 
whalers, and boasted, I don't know with what truth, of 
being financed on the quiet by a most respectable firm of 
copra merchants. Later on he ran off — ^it was reported 
—with the wife of a missionary, a very young girl from 
Clapham way, who had married the mild, flat-footed 
fellow in a moment of enthusiasm, and suddenly trans- 
planted to Melanesia, lost her bearings somehow. It 
was a dark story. She was ill at the time he carried 
her off, and died on board his ship. It is said — as the 
most wonderful part of the tale — that over her body he 
gave way to an outburst of sombre and violent grief. 
His luck left him, too, very soon after. He lost his ship 
on some rocks off Malaita, and disappeared for a time 
as though he had gone down with her. He is heard of 
next at Nuka-Hiva, where he bought an old French 
schooner out of Government service. What creditable 
enterprise he might have had in view when he made that 
purchase I can't say, but it is evident that what with 
High Commissioners, consuls, men-of-war, and inter- 
national control, the South Seas were getting too hot to 
hold gentlemen of his kidney. Clearly he must have 
shifted the scene of his operations farther west, because 
a year later he plays an incredibly audacious, but not a 
very profitable part, in a serio-comic business in Manila 
Bay, in which a peculating governor and an absconding 
treasurer are the principal figiures; thereafter he seems 


to have hung around the Philippines in his rotten 
schooner, battling with an adverse fortune, till at last, 
running his appointed course, he sails into Jim's history, 
a blind accomplice of the Dark Powers. 

''His tale goes that when a Spanish patrol cutter 
captured him he was simply trying to run a few guns 
for the insurgents. If so, then I can't understand what 
he was doing off the south coast of Mindanao. My 
belief, however, is that he was blackmailing the native 
villages along the coast. The principal thing is that the 
cutter, throwing a guard on board, made him sail in 
company towards Zamboanga. On the way, for some 
reason or other, both vessels had to call at one of these 
new Spanish settlements — which never came to any- 
thing in the end — where there was not only a civil 
official in charge on shore, but a good stout coasting 
schooner lying at anchor in the little bay; and this craft, 
in every way much better than his own. Brown made up 
his mind to steal. 

"He was down on his luck — as he told me himself. 
The world he had bullied for twenty years with fierce, 
aggressive disdain, had yielded him nothing in the way 
of material advantage except a small bag of silver 
dollars, which was concealed in his cabin so that 'the 
devil himself couldn't smell it out.' And that was all — 
absolutely all. He was tired of his life, and not afraid of 
death. But this man, who would stake his existence on 
a whim with a bitter and jeering recklessness, stood in 
mortal fear of imprisonment. He had an unreasoning 
cold-sweat, nerve-shaking, blood-to-water-tuming sort 
of horror at the bare possibility of being locked up — the 
sort of terror a superstitious man would feel at the 
thought of being embraced by a spectre. Therefore the 
civil official who came on board to make a preliminary 
investigation into the capture, investigated arduously 


all day long, and only went ashore after dark, muffled 
up in a cloak, and taking great care not to let Brown's 
little all clink in its bag. Afterwards, being a man of 
his word, he contrived (the very next evening, I be- 
lieve) to send off the Government cutter on some urgent 
bit of special service. As her commander could not 
spare a prize crew, he contented himself by taking away 
before he left all the sails of Brown's schooner to the 
very last rag, and took good care to tow his two boats 
on to the beach a couple of miles off. 

"But in Brown's crew there was a Solomon Islander, 
kidnapped in his youth and devoted to Brown, who was 
the best man of the whole gang. That fellow swam off 
to the coaster — ^five hundred yards or so — ^with the end 
of a warp made up of all the running gear unrove for 
the purpose. The water was smooth, and the bay 
dark, *like the inside of a cow,' as Brown described it. 
The Solomon Islander clambered over the bulwarks 
with the end of the rope in his teeth. The crew of the 
coaster — all Tagals — were ashore having a jollification 
in the native village. The two shipkeepers left on board 
woke up suddenly and saw the devil. It had glittering 
eyes and leaped quick as lightning about the deck. 
They fell on their knees, paralysed with fear, crossing 
themselves and mumbling prayers. With a long knife 
he found in the caboose the Solomon Islander, without 
interrupting their orisons, stabbed first one, then the 
other; with the same knife he set to sawing patiently at 
the coir cable till suddenly it parted under the blade 
with a splash. Then in the silence of the bay he let out 
a cautious shout, and Brown's gang, who meantime had 
been peering and straining their hopeful ears in the dark- 
ness, began to pull gently at their end of the warp. In 
less than five minutes the two schooners came together 
with a slight shock and a creak of spars. 


^^Brown's crowd transferred themselyes without 
losing an instant, taking with them their firearms and a 
laige supply of ammunition. They were sixteen in all: 
two runaway blue-jackets, a lanky deserter from a 
Yankee man-of-war, a couple of simple, blond Scandi- 
navians, a mulatto of sorts, one bland Chinaman who 
cooked — and the rest of the nondescript spawn of the 
South Seas. None of them cared; Brown bent them to 
his will, and Brown, indifferent to gallows, was running 
away from the spectre of a Spanish prison. He didn't 
give them the time to trans-ship enough provisions; the 
weather was calm, the air was charged with dew, and 
when they cast off the ropes and set sail to a faint off- 
shore draught there was no flutter in the damp canvas; 
their old schooner seemed to detach itself gently from 
the stolen craft and slip away silently, together with the 
black mass of the coast, into the night. 

*^They got clear away. Brown related to me in 
detail their passage down the Straits of Macassar. 
It is a harrowing and desperate story. They were short 
of food and water; they boarded several native craft and 
got a little from each. With a stolen ship Brown did 
not dare to put into any port, of course. He had no 
money to buy anything, no papers to show, and no lie 
plausible enough to get him out again. An Arab 
barque, under the Dutch flag, surprised one night at 
anchor off Poulo Laut, yielded a little dirty rice, a bunch 
of bananas, and a cask of water; three days of squally 
misty weather from the north-east shot the schooner 
across the Java Sea. The yellow muddy waves drenched 
that collection of hungry ruffians. They sighted mail- 
boats moving on their appointed routes; passed well- 
f oimd home ships with rusty iron sides anchored in the 
shallow sea waiting for a change of weather or the turn 
of the tide; an English gunboat, white and trim, with 


two slim masts, crossed their bows one day in the dis- 
tance; and on another occasion a Dutch corvette, black 
and heavily sparred, loomed upon their quarter, steam- 
ing dead slow in the mist. They slipped through un- 
seen or disregarded, a wan, sallow-faced band of utter 
outcasts, enraged with hunger and hunted by fear. 
Brown's idea was to make for Madagascar, where he 
expected, on grounds not altogether illusory, to sell the 
schooner in Tamatave, and no questions asked, or 
perhaps obtain some more or less forged papers for her. 
Yet before he could face the long passage across the 
Indian Ocean food was wanted — water, too. 

^^P^haps he had heard of Patusan — or perhaps he 
just only happened to see the name written in small 
letters on the chart — ^probably that of a largish village 
up a river in a native state, perfectly defenceless, far 
from the beaten tracks of the sea and from the ends of 
submarine cables. He had done that kind of thing 
before — ^in the way of business; and this now was an 
absolute necessity, a question of life and death — or 
rather of liberty. Of liberty ! He was sure to get provi- 
sions — ^bullocks — ^rice — ^sweet-potatoes. The sorry gang 
licked their chops. A cargo of produce for the schooner 
perhaps could be extorted — ^and, who knows? — some real 
ringing coined money ! Some of these chiefs and viUage 
headmen can be made to part freely. He told me he 
would have roasted their toes rather than be baulked. I 
believe him. His men believed him too. They didn't cheer 
aloud, being a dumb pack, but made ready wolfishly. 

^'Luck served him as to weather. A few days of 
calm would have brought unmentionable horrors on 
board that schooner, but with the help of land and sea 
breezes, in less than a week after clearing the Sunda 
Straits, he anchored off the Batu Kring mouth within 
a pistol-shot of the fishing village. 

368 lORD JIM 

"Fourteen of them packed into the schooner's long- 
boat (which was big, having been used for cargo-work) 
and started up the river, while two remained in charge 
of the schooner with food enough to keep starvation off 
for ten days. The tide and wind helped, and early one 
afternoon the big white boat under a ragged sail 
shouldered its way before the sea breeze into Patusan 
Beach, manned by fourteen assorted scarecrows glaring 
hungrily ahead, and fingering the breech-blocks of 
cheap rifles. Brown calculated upon the terrifying 
surprise of his appearance. They sailed in with the 
last of the flood; the Rajah's stockade gave no sign; the 
first houses on both sides of the stream seemed deserted. 
A few canoes were seen up the reach in full flight. 
Brown was astonished at the size of the place. A pro- 
found silence reigned. The wind dropped between the 
houses; two oars were got out and the boat held on up- 
stream, the idea being to effect a lodgment in the centre 
of the town before the inhabitants could think of re- 

"It seems, however, that the headman of the fishing 
village at Batu Kring had managed to send off a timely 
warning. When the long-boat came abreast of the 
mosque (which Doramin had built: a structure with 
gables and roof finials of carved coral) the open space 
before it was full of people. A shout went up, and was 
followed by a clash of gongs all up the river. Prom a 
point above two little brass six-pounders were dis- 
charged, and the round-shot came skipping down the 
empty reach, spirting glittering jets of water in the sun- 
shine. In front of the mosque a shouting lot of men 
began firing in volleys that whipped athwart the cur- 
rent of the river; an irregular, rolling fusillade was 
opened on the boat from both banks, and Brown's men 
replied with a wild, rapid fire. The oars had been got in. 


"The turn of the tide at high water comes on very 
quick in that river, and the boat in midstream, nearly 
hidden in smoke, began to drift back stem foremost. 
Along both shores the smoke thickened also, lying be- 
low the roofs in a level streak as you may see a long 
cloud cutting the slope of a moimtain. A tumult of 
war-cries, the vibrating clang of gongs, the deep snoring 
of drums, yells of rage, crashes of volley-firing, made an 
awful din, in which Brown sat confounded but steady at 
the tiller, working himself into a fury of hate and rage 
against those people who dared to defend themselves. 
Two of his men had been wounded, and he saw his re- 
treat cut off below the town by some boats that had put 
off from Tunku Allang's stockade. There were six of 
them full of men. While he was thus beset he per- 
ceived the entrance of the narrow creek (the same which 
Jim had jumped at low water). It was then brim full. 
Steering the long-boat in, they landed, and, to make 
a long story short, they established themselves on a 
little knoll about 900 yards from the stockade, which, 
in fact, they commanded from that position. The 
slopes of the knoll were bare, but there were a few 
trees on the summit. They went to work cutting these 
down for a breastwork, and were fairly intrenched 
before dark; meantime the Rajah's boats remained in 
the river with curious neutrality. When the sun set 
the glare of many brushwood blazes lighted on the 
river-front, and between the double line of houses on 
the land side threw into black relief the roofs, the groups 
of slender palms, the heavy clumps of fruit-trees. 
Brown ordered the grass round his position to be fired; 
a low ring of thin flames under the slow, ascending 
smoke wriggled rapidly down the slopes of the knoll; 
here and there a dry bush caught with a tall, vicious 
roar. The conflagration made a clear zone of fire for 


the riiBes of the small party, and expired smouldering on 
the edge of the f orest^ and along the muddy bank of the 
creek. A strip of jungle luxuriating in a damp hollow 
between the knoll and the Rajah's stockade stopped it 
on that side with a great crackling and detonations of 
bursting bamboo stems. The sky was sombre, velvety, 
and swarming with stars. The blackened ground 
smoked' quietly with low creeping wisps, till a little 
breeze came on and blew everything away. Brown 
expected an attack to be delivered as soon as the tide 
had flowed enough again to enable the war-boats which 
had cut ofiF his retreat to enter the creek. At any rate 
he was sure there would be an attempt to carry o£F his 
long-boat, which lay below the hill, a dark high lump on 
the feeble sheen of a wet mud-flat. But no move of 
any sort was made by the boats in the river. Over the 
stockade and the Rajah's buildings Brown saw their 
lights on the water. They seemed to be anchored 
across the stream. Other lights afloat were moving in 
the reach, crossing and recrossing from side to side. 
There were also lights twinkling motionless upon the 
long walls of houses up the reach, as far as the bend, and 
more still beyond, others isolated inland. The loom 
of the big fires disclosed buildings, roofs, black piles as 
far as he could see. It was an immense place. The 
fourteen desperate invaders lying flat behind the felled 
trees raised their chins to look over at the stir of that 
town that seemed to extend up-river for miles and 
swarm with thousands of angry men. They did not 
speak to each other. Now and then they would hear a 
loud yell, or a single shot rang out, fired very far some- 
where. But round their position everything was still, 
dark, silent. They seemed to be forgotten, as if the ex- 
citement keeping awake all the population had nothing 
to do with them, as if they had been dead abeady." 



'All the events of that night have a great importance, 
since they brought about a situation which remained 
unchanged tiU Jim's return. Jim had been away m the 
interior for more than a week, and it was Dain Waris 
who had directed the first repulse. That brave and 
intelligent youth (*who knew how to fight after the 
manner of white men') wished to settle the business 
off-hand, but his people were too much for him. He 
had not Jim's racial prestige and the reputation of 
invincible, supernatural power. He was not the visible, 
tangible incarnation of imf ailing truth and of unfailing 
victory. Beloved, trusted, and admired as he was, he 
was still one of them^ while Jim was one of us. More* 
over, the white man, a tower of strength in himself, was 
invulnerable, while Dain Wans could be killed. Those 
unexpressed thoughts guided the opinions of the chief 
men of the town, who elected to assemble in Jim's fort 
for deliberation upon the emergency, as if expecting to 
find wisdom and courage in the dwelling of the absent 
white man. The shooting of Brown's ruffians was so 
far good, or lucky, that there had been half-a-dozen 
casualties amongst the defenders. The wounded were 
lying on the verandah tended by their women-folk. 
The women and children from the lower part of the 
town had been sent into the fort at the first alarm. 
There Jewel was in command, very efficient and high- 
spirited, obeyed by Jim's ^own people,' who, quitting m 
a body their little settlement under the stockade, had 
gone in to form the garrison. The refugees crowded 



round her; and through the whole affair, to the very 
disastrous last, she showed an extraordinary martial 
ardour. It was to her that Dain Waris had gone at 
once at the first intelligence of danger, for you must 
know that Jim was the only one in Patusan who 
possessed a store of gunpowder. Stein, with whom he 
had kept up intimate relations by letters, had obtained 
from the Dutch Government a special authorisation to 
export five hundred kegs of it to Patusan. The powder- 
magazine was a small hut of rough logs covered entirely 
with earth, and in Jim's absence the girl had the key. 
In the coimcil, held at eleven o'clock in the evening in 
Jim's dining-room, she backed up Waris's advice for 
immediate and vigorous action. I am told that she 
stood up by the side of Jim's empty chair at the head of 
the long table and made a warlike impassioned speech, 
which for the moment extorted murmurs of approbation 
from the assembled headmen. Old Doramin, who had 
not showed himself outside his own gate for more than a 
year, had been brought across with great difficulty. 
He was, of course, the chief man there. The temper 
of the council was very unforgiving, and the old man's 
word would have been decisive; but it is my opinion 
that, well aware of his son's fiery courage, he dared not 
pronounce the word. More dilatory counsels pre- 
vailed. A certain Haji Saman pointed out at great 
length that Hhese tyrannical and ferocious men had 
delivered themselves to a certain death in any case. 
They would stand fast on their hill and starve, or they 
would try to regain their boat and be shot from am- 
bushes across the creek, or they would break and fly 
into the forest and perish singly there.' He argued 
that by the use of proper stratagems these evil-minded 
strangers could be destroyed without the risk of a 
battle, and his words had a great weight, especially 


with the Patusan men proper. What unsettled the 
minds of the townsfolk was the failure of the Rajah's 
boats to act at the decisive moment. It was the 
diplomatic Kassim who represented the Rajah at the 
council. He spoke very little, listened smilingly, very 
friendly and impenetrable. During the sitting mes- 
sengers kept arriving every few minutes ahnost, with 
reports of the invaders' proceedings. Wild and ex- 
aggerated rumours were flying: there was a large ship 
at the mouth of the river with big guns and many more 
men — ^some white, others with black skins and of blood- 
thirsty appearance. They were coming with many 
more boats to exterminate every living thing. A 
sense of near, incomprehensible danger affected the 
common people. At one moment there was a panic 
in the courtyard amongst the women; shrieking; a 
rush; children crying — ^Haji Saman went out to quiet 
them. Then a fort sentry fired at something moving on 
the river, and nearly kiUed a viUager bringing in his 
women-folk in a canoe together with the best of his 
domestic utensils and a dozen fowls. This caused 
more confusion. Meantime the palaver inside Jim's 
house went on in the presence of the girl. Doramin sat 
fierce-faced, heavy, looking at the speakers in turn, and 
breathing slow like a bull. He didn't speak till the 
last, after Kassim had declared that the Rajah's boats 
would be called in because the men were required to 
0^ defend his master's stockade. Dain Waris in his 
father's presence would offer no opinion, though the 
girl entreated him in Jim's name to speak out. She 
offered him Jim's own men in her anxiety to have these 
intruders driven out at once. He only shook his head, 
after a glance or two at Doramin. Finally, when the 
council broke up it had been decided that the houses 
nearest the creek should be strongly occupied to obtain 


the command of the enemy's boat. The boat itself was 
not to be interfered with openly, so that the robbers on 
the hill should be tempted to embark, when a well 
directed fire would kill most of them, no doubt. To cut 
the escape of those who might survive, and to prevent 
more of them coming up, Dain Wans was ordered by 
Doramin to take an armed party of Bugis down the 
river to a certain spot ten miles below Patusan, and 
there form a camp on the shore and blockade the stream 
with the canoes. I don't believe for a moment that 
Doramin feared the arrival of fresh forces. My opinion 
is, that his conduct waa guided solely by his wish to 
keep his son out of harm's way. To prevent a rush 
being made into the town the construction of a stockade 
was to be commenced at daylight at the end of the 
street on the left bank. The old naJchoda declared his 
intention to command there himself. A distribution 
of powder, bullets, and percussion caps was made 
immediately under the girl's supervision. Several 
messengers were to be despatched in diflFerent directions 
after Jim, whose exact whereabouts were unknown. 
These men started at dawn, but before that time 
Ka^sim had managed to open communications with 
the besieged Brown. 

^'That accomplished diplomatist and confidant of 
the Rajah, on leaving the fort to go back to his master, 
took into his boat Cornelius, whom he found slinking 
mutely amongst the people in the courtyard. Kassim 
had a little plan of his own and wanted him for an 
interpreter. Thus it came about that towards morning 
Brown, reflecting upon the desperate nature of his 
position, heard from the marshy overgrown hollow 
an amicable, quavering, strained voice crying — ^in 
English — for permission to come up, under a promise 
of personal safety and on a very important errand. 


He was overjoyed. If he was spoken to he was no 
longer a hunted wfld beast. These friendly sounds 
took oflF at once the awful stress of vigilant watchful- 
ness as of so many blind men not knowing whence the 

deathblow might come. He pretended a great re-_ ^ 

luctance. The voice declared itself *a white nlani^ A / 

poor, ruined, old man who had been living here for .^ 
years.' A mist, wet and chilly, lay on the slopes of the 
hill, and after some more shouting from one to the 
other. Brown called out, *Come on, then, but alone, 
mind!' As a matter of fact — ^he told me, writhing with 
rage at the recollection of his helplessness — ^it made no 
difiFerence. They couldn't see more than a few yards 
before them, and no treachery could make their position 
worse. By-and-by Corodiua,. in his week-day attire 
of a ragged dirty s^irt and pants, barefooted, with a 
broken-rimmed pith hat on his head, was made out 
vaguely, sidling up to the defences, hesitating, stopping 
to listen in a peering posture. * Come along! You are 
safe,' yelled Brown, while his men stared. All their 
hopes of life became suddenly centred in that dilapi- 
dated, mean new-comer, who in profound silence clam- 
bered clumsily over a felled tree-trunk, and shivering, 
with his sour mistrustful face, looked about at the knot 
of bearded, anxious, sleepless desperadoes. 

"Half an hour's confidential talk with Cornelius"] 
opened Brown's eyes as to the home affairs of Fatusaa^..; 
He was on the alert at once. There were possibilities, 
immense possibilities; but before he would talk over 
Cornelius's proposals he demanded that some food 
should be sent up as a guarantee of good faith. Corne- 
lius went off, creeping sluggishly down the hill on the 
side of the Rajah's palace, and after some delay a few 
of Tunku Allang's men came up, bringing a scanty 
supply of rice, chillies, and dried fish. This was im- 


measurably better than nothing. Later on Cornelius 
returned accompanying Kassim, who stepped out with 
an air of perf ectfgood-humoured trustfulness, in sandals, 
and muffled up from neck to ankles in dark-blue 
sheeting. He shook hands with Brown discreetly, and 
the three drew aside for a conference. Brown's men, 
recovering their confidence, were slapping each other 
on the back, and cast knowing glances at their captain 
while they busied themselves with preparations for 

'^Kassim disliked Doramin and his Bugis very much, 
but he hated the new order of things still more. It had 
occurred to him that these whites, together with the 
Rajah's followers, could attack and defeat the Bugis 
before Jim's return. Then, he reasoned, general de- 
fection of the townsfolk was sure to follow, and the 
reign of the white man who protected poor people 
would be over. Afterwards the new allies coiild be 
dealt with. They would have no friends. The fellow 
was perfectly able to perceive the diflFerence of character, 
and had seen enough of white men to know that these 
new-comers were outcasts, men without country. 
Brown preserved a stern and inscrutable demeanour. 
When he first heard Cornelius's voice demanding ad- 
mittance, it brought merely the hope of a loophole for 
escape. In less than an hour other thoughts were 
seething in his head. Urged by an extreme necessity, 
he had come there to steal food, a few tons of rubber or 
gum maybe, perhaps a handful of dollars, and had 
found himself enmeshed by deadly dangers. Now in 
consequence of these overtures from Kassim he began 
to think of stealing the whole country. Some con- 
founded fellow had apparently accomplished some- 
thing of the kind — single-handed at that. Couldn't 
have done it very well though. Perhaps they could 


work together — squeeze everything dry and then go out 
quietly. In the course of his negotiations with Kassim 
he became aware that he was supposed to have a big 
ship with plenty of men outside. Kassim begged him 
earnestly to have this big ship with his many guns and 
men brought up the river without delay for the Rajah's 
service. Brown professed hunself wiUing, and on this 
basis the negotiation was carried on with mutual dis- 
trust. Three times in the course of the morning the 
courteous and active Kassim went down to consult the 
Rajah and came up busily with his long stride. Brown, 
while bargaining, had a sort of grim enjoyment in 
thinking of his wretched schooner, with nothing but a 
heap of dirt in her hold, that stood for an armed ship, 
and a Chinaman and a lame ex-beachcomber of Levuka 
on board, who represented all his many men. In the 
afternoon he obtained further doles of food, a promise 
of some money, and a supply of mats for his men to 
make shelters for themselves. They lay down and 
snored, protected from the burning sunshine; but 
Brown, sitting fully exposed on one of the felled trees, 
feasted his eyes upon the view of the town and the river. 
There was much loot here. Cornelius, who had made 
himself at home in the camp, talked at his elbow, point- 
ing out the localities, imparting advice, giving his own 
version of Jim's character, and commenting in his own 
fashion upon the events of the last three years. Brown, 
who, apparently indifferent and gazing away, listened 
with attention to every word, could not make out clearly 
what sort of man this Jim could be. * What's his name? 
Jim! Jim! That's not enough for a man's name.' 
*They call him,' said Cornelius, scornfully, *Tuan Jim 
here. As you may say Lord Jim.' *What is he? 
Where does he come from?' inquired Brown.. *What 
sort of man is he? Is he an Englishman?' 'Yes, yes. 


he*s an Englishman. I am an Englishman, too. From 
Malacca. He is a fool, f A]ll you have to do is to kill 
him and then you are king here. Everything belongs 
to him/ explained ComeUus. 'It strikes me he may be 
made to share with somebody before very long/ com- 
mented Brown half aloud. 'No, no. The proper way 
is to kill him the first chance you get, and then you can 
do what you like,* Cornelius would insist earnestly. 'I 
have liv€^ for many years here, and I am giving you a 
friend's advice.' 

''In such converse and in gloating over the view of 
Patusan, which he had determined in his mind should 
become his prey. Brown whiled away most of the after- 
noon, his men, meantime, resting. On that day Dain 
Waris's fleet of canoes stole one by one under the shore 
farthest from the creek, and went down to close the 
river against his retreat. Of this Brown was not aware, 
and Kassim, who came up the knoll an hour before sun- 
set, took good care not to enlighten him. He wanted 
the white man's ship to come up the river, and this news, 
he feared, would be discouraging. He was very press- 
ing with Brown to send the 'order,' offering at the same 
time a trusty messenger, who for greater secrecy (as he 
explained) would make his way by land to the mouth of 
the river and deliver the 'ord^' on board. After some 
reflection Brown judged it expedient to tear a page out 
of his pocket-book, on which he simply wrote, 'We are 
getting on. Big job. Detain the man.' The stolid 
youth selected by Kassim for that service performed 
it faithfully, and was rewarded by being suddenly 
tipped, head first, into the schooner's empty hold by 
the ex-beachcomber and the Chinaman, who thereupon 
hastened to put on the hatches. What became of him 
afterwards Brown did not say." 


"Brown's object was to gain time by fooling with 
Kassim's diplomacy. For doing a real stroke of busi- 
ness he could not help thinking the white man was the 
person to work with. He could not imagine such a 

chap (who must be confoundedly clev^-alter-alLto^t 
hold of the natives like th^ [refusing a help that would 
do away with the necessity for slow, cautious, risky 
cheating, that imposed itself as the only possible line of 
conduct for a single-handed man. He, Brown, would 
oflFer him the power.(^ No n^aa^ould hesitate. ^Every- 
thing was in coming to a clear understanding. Of 
course they would share. The idea of there being a 
fort — ^all ready to his hand — ^a real fort, with artillery 
(he knew this from Cornelius), excited him. Let him 
only once get in and . • • He would impose 
modest conditions. Not too low, though. The man 
was no fool, it seemed. They would work like brothers 
till ... till the time came for a quarrel and a shot 
that would settle all accounts. With grim impatience 
of plunder he wished himself to be talking with the man 
now. The land already seemed to hg his to tear to 
pieces, squeeze, and throw away «^^ Meantime Kassim 
had to be fooled for the sake of food first — ^and for a 
second string. But the principal thing was to get some- 
thing to eat from day to day. Besides, he was not 
averse to begin fighting on that Rajah's account, and 
teach a lesson to those people who had received him 
with shots. The lust of battle was upon him. 

"I am sorry that I can't give you this part of the 



story, which of course I have mainly from Brown, in 
Brown's own words. There was in the broken, violent 
speech of that man, unveiling before me his thoughts 
with the very hand of Death upon his throat, an un- 
disguised ruthlessness of purpose, a strange vengeful 
attitude towards his own past, and a blind belief in the 
righteousness of his will against all mankind, something 
of that feeling which could induce the leader of a horde 
of wandering cut-throats to call himself proudly the 
Scourge of God. No doubt the natural senseless 
ferocity which is the basis of such a character was ex- 
asperated by failure, ill-luck, and the recent privations, 
as well as by the desperate position in which he found 
himself; but what was most remarkable of all was this, 
that while he planned treacherous alliances, had already 
settled in his own mind the fate of the white man, and 
intrigued in an overbearing, offhand manner with 
Kassim, one could perceive that what he had really 
desired, almost in spite of himself, was to play havoc 
with that jungle town which had defied him, to see it 
strewn over with corpses and enveloped in flames. 
Listening to his pitiless, panting voice, I could imagine 
how he must have looked at it from the hillock, peopling 
it with images of murder and rapine. The part nearest 
to the creek wore an abandoned aspect, though as a 
matter of fact every house concealed a few armed men 
on the alert. Suddenly beyond the stretch of waste 
ground, interspersed with small patches of low dense 
bush, excavations, heaps of rubbish, with trodden 
paths between, a man, solitary and looking very small, 
strolled out into the deserted opening of the street 
between the shut-up, dark, lifeless buildings at the end. 
Perhaps one of the inhabitants, who had fled to the other 
bank of the river, coming back for some object of do- 
mestic use. Evidently he supposed himself quite safe 


at that distance from the hill on the other side of the 
creek. A light stockade, set up hastily, was just round 
the turn of the street, full of his friends. He moved 
leisurely. Brown saw him, and instantly called to his 
side the Yankee deserter, who acted as a sort of second 
in command. This lanky, loose-jointed feUow came 
forward, wooden-faced, trailing his rifle lazily. When 
he understood what was wanted from him a homicidal 
and conceited smile uncovered his teeth, making two 
deep folds down his sallow, leathery cheeks. He 
prided himself on being a dead shot. He dropped on 
one knee, and taking aim from a steady rest through 
the unlopped branches of a felled tree, fired, and at 
once stood up to look. The man, far away, tmmed his 
head to the report, made another step forward, seemed 
to hesitate, and abruptly got down on his hands and 
knees. In the silence that fell upon the sharp crack of 
the rifle, the dead shot, keeping his eyes fixed upon the 
quarry, guessed that *this there coon's health would 
never be a source of anxiety to his friends any more.* 
The man's limbs were seen to move rapidly under hia ,..^ 
body in an endeavour to run on all-foui^/ln that 
empty space arose a multitudinous shout^ dismay and 
surprise. The man sank flat, face down, and moved no 
more. *That showed them what we could do,' said 
Brown to me. * Struck the fear of sudden death into 
them. That was what we wanted. They were two 
hundred to one, and this gave them something to think 
over for the night. Not one of them had an idea of 
such a long shot before. That beggar belonging to the 
Rajah scouted down-hill with his eyes hanging out of 
his head.' 

"As he was teUing me this he tried with a shakmg 
hand to wipe the thin foam on his blue lips. 'Two 
hundred to one. Two hundred to one . . . strike 


terror . . . terror, terror, I tell you. . . / 
His own eyes were starting out of their sockets. He 
fell back, clawing the air with skinny fingers, sat up 
again, bowed and hairy, glared at me sideways like some 
man-beast of folklore, with open mouth in his miserable 
and awful agony before he got his speech back after 
that fit. There are sights one never forgets. 

"Furthermore, to draw the enemy's fire and locate 
such parties as might have been hiding in the bushes 
along the creek. Brown ordered the Solomon Islander 
to go down to the boat and bring an oar, as you send 
a spaniel after a stick into the water. This failed, 
and the fellow came back without a single shot having 
been fired at him from anywhere. * There's nobody,' 
opined some of the men. It is 'onnatural,' remarked 
the Yankee. Kassim had gone, by that time, very 
much impressed, pleased, too, and also uneasy. Pursu- 
ing his tortuous policy, he had despatched a message 
to Dain Waris warning him to look out for the white 
men's ship, which, he had had information, was about 
to come up the river. He minimised its strength and 
exhorted him to oppose its passage. This double- 
dealing answered his purpose, which was to keep the 
Bugis forces divided and to weaken them by fighting. 
On the other hand, he had in the course of that day 
sent word to the assembled Bugis chiefs in town, assur- 
ing them that he was trying to induce the invaders to 
retire; his messages to the fort asked earnestly for 
powder for the Rajah's men. It was a long time since 
Tunku Allang had had ammunition for the score or so 
of old muskets rusting in their arm-racks in the audi- 
ence-hall. The open intercourse between the hill and 
the palace unsettled all the minds. It was already time 
for men to take sides, it began to be said. There would 
soon be much bloodshed, and thereafter great trouble 


for many people. The social fabric of orderiy, peace- 
ful life, when every man was sure of to-morrow, the 
edifice raised by Jim's hands, seemed on that evening 
ready to collapse into a ruin reeking with blood. The 
poorer folk were already taking to the bush or flying up 
the river. A good many of the upper class judged it 
necessary to go and pay their court to the Rajah. The 
Rajah's youths jostled them rudely. Old Tunku 
Allang, almost out of his mind with fear and indecision, 
either kept a sullen silence or abused them violently for 
daring to come with empty hands : they departed very 
much frightened; only old Doramin kept his' country- 
men together and pursued his tactics inflexibly. En- 
throned in a big chair behind the unprovised stockade, 
he issued his orders in a deep veiled rumble, unmoved, 
like a deaf man, in the flying rumours. 

^'Dusk fell, hiding first the body of the dead man, 
which had been left lying with arms outstretched as if 
nailed to the ground, and then the revolving sphere of 
the night rolled smoothly over Fatusan and came to a 
rest, showering the glitter of countless worlds upon the 
earth. Again, in the exposed part of the town big fires 
blazed along the only street, revealing from distance to 
distance upon their glares the falling straight lines of 
roofs, the fragments of wattled walls jumbled in con- 
fusion, here and there a whole hut elevated in the glow 
upon the vertical black stripes of a group of high piles; 
and all this line of dwellings, revealed in patches by the 
swaying flames, seemed to flicker tortuously away up- 
river into the gloom at the heart of the land. A great 
silence, in which the looms of successive fires played 
without noise, extended into the darkness at the foot 
of the hill; but the other bank of the river, all dark save 
for a solitary bonfire at the river-front before the fort, 
sent out into the air an increasing tremor that might 


have been the stamping of a multitude of feet, the hum 
of many voices, or the fall of an inmiensely distant 
waterfidl. It was then. Brown confessed to me, while, 
turning his back on his men, he sat looking at it all, that 
notwithstanding his disdain, his ruthless faith in him- 
self, a feeling came over him that at last he had run his 
head against a stone wall. Had his boat been afloat at 
the time, he believed he would have tried to steal away, 
taking his chances of a long chase down the river and of 
starvation at sea. It was very doubtful whether he 
would have succeeded in getting away. However, he 
didn't try this. For another moment he had a passing 
thought of trying to rush the town, but he perceived 
very well that in the end he would find himself in the 
lighted street, where they would be shot down like dogs 
from the houses. They were two hundred to one — ^he 
thought, while his men, huddling round two heaps of 
smouldering embers, munched the last of the bananas 
and roasted the few yams they owed to Kassim's di- 
plomacy. Cornelius sat amongst them dozing sulkily. 
"Then one of the whites remembered that some 
tobacco had been left in the boat, and, encouraged by 
the impunity of the Solomon Islander, said he would 
go to fetch it. At this all the others shook off their 
despondency. Brown applied to, said, *Go, and be 
d — d to you,' scornfully. He didn't think there was any 
danger in going to the creek in the dark. The man 
threw a leg over the tree-trunk and disappeared. A 
moment later he was heard clambering into the boat 
and then clambering out. *I've got it,' he cried. A 
flash and a report at the very foot of the hill followed. 
*I am hit,' yelled the man. *Look out, look out — ^I am 
hit,' and instantly all the rifles went off. The hill 
squirted fire and noise into the night like a little volcano, 
and when Brown and the Yankee with curses and cuffs 


stopped the panic-stricken firing, a profound, weary 
groan floated up from the creek, succeeded by a plaint 
whose heart-rending sadness was like some poison turn- 
ing the blood cold in the veins. Then a strong voice 
pronounced several distinct incomprehensible words 
somewhere beyond the creek. *Let no one fire,* 
shouted Brown. * What does it mean?' . . . *Do 
you hear on the hill? Do you hear? Do you hear?* 
repeated the voice three times. Cornelius translated, 
and then prompted the answer. ^ Speak,* cried Brown, 
^we hear.* Then the voice, declaiming in the sonorous 
inflated tone of a herald, and shifting continually on the 
edge of the vague waste-land, proclaimed that between 
the men of the Bugis nation living in Fatusan and the 
white men on the hill and those with them, there would 
be no faith, no compassion, no speech, no peace. A 
bush rustled; a haphazard volley rang out. ^Dam* 
foolishness,* muttered the Yankee, vexedly grounding 
the butt. Cornelius translated. The wounded man 
below the hill, after crying out twice, 'Take me up! 
take me up!* went on complaining in moans. While 
he had kept on the blackened earth of the slope and 
afterwards crouching in the boat, he had been safe 
enough. It seems that in his joy at finding tobacco 
he forgot himself and jumped out on her off-side, as 
it were. The white boat, lying high and dry, showed 
him up; the creek was no more than seven yards wide 
in that place, and there happened to be a man crouching 
in the bush on the other bank. 

**He was a Bugis of Tondano only lately come to 
Fatusan, and a relation of the man shot in the after- 
noon. That famous long shot had indeed appalled the 
beholders. The man in utter security had been struck 
down, in full view of his friends, dropping with a joke 
on his lips, and they seemed to see in the act an atrocity 


which had stirred a bitter rage. That relation of his, 
Si-Lapa by name, was then with Doramin in the 
stockade only a few feet away. You who know these 
chaps must admit that the fellow showed an unusual 
pluck by volunteering to carry the message, alone, in the 
dark. Creeping across the open ground, he had de- 
viated to the left and found himself opposite the boat. 
He was startled when Brown's man shouted. He came 
to a sittfaig position with his gun to his shoulder, and 
when the other jumped out, exposing himself, he pulled 
the trigger and lodged three jagged slugs point-blank 
into the poor wretch's stomach. Then, lying flat on his 
face, he gave himself up for dead, while a thin hail of 
lead chopped and swished the bushes close on his right 
hand; afterwards he delivered his speech shouting, bent 
double, dodging all the time in cover. With the last 
word he leaped sideways, lay close for a while, and 
afterwards got back to the houses unharmed, having 
achieved on that night such a renown as his children 
will not willingly allow to die. 

"And on the hill the forlorn band let the two little 
heaps of embers go out under their bowed heads. 
They sat dejected on the ground with compressed lips 
and downcast eyes, listening to their comrade below. 
He was a strong man and died hard, with moans now 
loud, now sinking to a strange confidential note of pain. 
Sometimes he shrieked, and again, aftA* a period of 
silence, he could be heard muttering deliriously a long 
and unintelligible complaint. Never for a moment did 
he cease. 

"* What's the good? ' Brown had said unmoved once, 
seeing the Yankee, who had been swearing under his 
breath, prepare to go down. * That's so,' assented the 
deserter, reluctantly desisting. ' There's no encourage- 
ment for wounded men here. Only his noise is cal- 


ciliated to make all the others thmk too much of the 
hereafter, cap'n.* * Water!' cried the wounded man m 
an extraordinarily clear vigorous voice, and then went 
oflF moaning feebly. *Ay, water. Water will do it/ 
muttered the other to himself, resignedly. * Plenty by- 
and-by. The tide is flowing/ 

^*At last the tide flowed, silencing the plaint and 
the cries of pain, and the dawn was near when Brown, 
sitting with his chin in the palm of his hand before 
Patusan, as one might stare at the unscalable side of 
a mountain, heard the brief ringing bark of a brass 
six-pounder far away in town somewhere. * What's 
this?' he asked of Cornelius, who hung about him. 
Cornelius listened. A muffled roaring shout rolled 
down-river over the town; a big drum began to throb, 
and others responded, pulsating and dronmg. Tiny 
scattered lights began to twinkle in the dark half of 
the town, while the part lighted by the loom of fires 
hunmied with a deep and prolonged murmur. *He 
has come,' said Cornelius. *What? Already? Are 
you sure?' Brown asked. *Yes! yes! Sure. Listen 
to the noise.' * What are they making that row about? ' 
pursued Brown. *For joy,' snorted Cornelius; * he is a 
very great man, but all the same, he knows no more than 
a child, and so they make a great noise to please him, 
because they know no better.* *Look here,* said 
Brown, ^how is one to get at him?' ^He shall come to 
talk to you,' Cornelius declared. * What do you mean? 
Come down here strolling as it were?' Cornelius 
nodded vigorously in the dark. *Yes. He will come 
straight here and talk to you. He is just like a fool. 
You shall see what a fool he is.* Brown was incredu- 
lous. ^ You shall see; you shall see,* repeated Cornelius. 
*He is not afraid — ^not afraid of anything. He will 
come and order you to leave his people alone. Every- 


body must leave his people alone. He is like a little 
child. He will come to you straight.' Alas! he 
knew Jim well — ^that 'mean little skunk/ as Brovni 
called him to me. *Yes, certainly/ he pursued with 
jfdour, 'and then, captain, you teU that tall man with 
a gun to shoot him. Just you kill him, and you shall 
Av^ryKf) ^v flo much that you can do anything 

'otx like with them afterwards — get what you like — ^go 
^y when you like. Ha! ha! ha! Fine. • • •' 

[e aknost danced with unpatience and eagerness; and 
Brown, looking over his shoulder at him, could see, 
shown up by the pitiless dawn, his men drenched with 
dew, sitting amongst the cold ashes and the litter of the 
camp, haggard, cowed, and in rags." 


" To THE very last moment, till the full day came upon 
them with a spring, the fires on the west bank blazed 
bright and clear; and then Brown saw in a knot of 
coloured figures motionless between the advanced 
houses a man in European clothes, in a helmet, all 
white. ^That's him; look! look!' Cornelius said 
excitedly. All Brown's men had sprung up and 
crowded at his back with lustreless eyes. The group 
of vivid colours and dark faces with the white figure 
in the midst were observing the knoll. Brown could 
see naked arms being raised to shade the eyes and other 
brown arms pointing. What should he do? He looked 
around, and the forests that faced him on all sides walled 
the cock-pit of an unequal contest. He looked once 
more at his men. A contempt, a weariness, the desire 
of life, the wish to try for one more chance — ^for some 
other grave — struggled in his breast. From the out- 
Une the figure presented it seemed to him that the white 
man there, backed up by all the power of the land, was 
examining his position through binoculars. Brown 
jumped up on the log, throwing his arms up, the palms 
outwards. The coloured group closed round the white 
man, and fell back twice before he got clear of them, 
walking slowly alone. Brown remained standing on 
the log till Jim, appearing and disappearing between the 
patches of thorny scrub, had nearly reached the creek; 
then Brown jumped off and went down to meet him on 
his side. 

''They met, I should think, not very far from the 




I place, perhaps on the very spot, where Jim took the 
t second desperate leap of his life— the leap that landed 
f him into the life of Fatusan, into the trust, the love, 
I the confidence of the people. They faced each other 
j across the creek, and with steady eyes tried to under- 
stand each other before they opened their lips. Their 
antagonism must have been expressed in their glances; 
I know that Brown hated Jim at first sight. Whatever 
hopes he might have had vanished at once. This was 
not the man he had expected to see. He hated him for 
this — ^and in a checked flannel shirt with sleeves cut off 
at the elbows, grey bearded, with a sunken, sun- 
blackened face — ^he cursed in his heart the other's youth 
and assurance, his clear eyes and his untroubled bearing. 
That fellow had got in a long way before him ! He did 
not look like a man who would be willing to give any- 
thing for assistance. He had all the advantages on his 
side — ^possession, security, power; he was on the side 
of an overwhelming force! He was not hungry and 
desperate, and he did not seem in the least afraid. And 
there was something in the very neatness of Jim's 
clothes, from the white helmet to the canvas leggings 
and the pipe-clayed shoes, which in Brown's sombre 
irritated eyes seemed to belong to things he had in the 
very shaping of his life contemned and flouted. 

"'Who are you?* asked Jim at last, speaking in his 
usual voice. *My name's Brown,' answered the other, 
loudly; * Captain Brown. What's yours?' and Jim 
after a little pause went on quietly, as if he had not 
heard: *What made you come here?' *You want to 
know,* said Brown bitterly. *It's easy to tell. Hunger. 
And what made you?' 

"*The fellow started at this,* said Brown, relating to 
me the opening of this strange conversation between 
those two men, separated only by the muddy bed of 


a creek, but standing on the opposite poles of that 
conception of life which includes all mankind— 'The 
fellow started at this and got very red in the face. Too 
big to be questioned, I suppose. I told him that if he 
looked upon me as a dead man with whom you may take 
liberties, he himself was not a whit better oflF really. I 
had a fellow up there who had a bead drawn on him all 
the time, and only waited for a sign from me. There 
was nothing to be shocked at in this. He had come 
down of his own freewill. "Let us agree," said I, 
"that we are both dead men, and let us talk on that 
basis, as equals. We are all equal before death," I 
said. I admitted I was there like a rat in a trap, but we 
had been driven to it, and even a trapped rat can give a 
bite. He caught me up in a moment. "Not if you 
don't go near the trap till the rat is dead." I told him 
that sort of game was good enough for these native 
friends of his, but I would have thought him too white 
to serve even a rat so. Yes, I had wanted to talk with 
him. Not to beg for my life, though. My fellows 
were — well — what they were — men like himself, any- 
how. All we wanted from him was to come on in the 
devil's name and have it out. "God d — ^n it," said I, 
while he stood there as still as a wooden post, "you don't 
want to come out here every day with your glasses to 
count how many of us are left on our feet. Come. 
Either bring your infernal crowd along or let us go out 
and starve in the open sea, by God! You have been 
white once, for all your tall talk of this being your 
own people and you being one with them. Are you? 
And what the devil do you get for it; what is it you've 
found here that is so d — d precious? Hey? You 
don't want us to come down here perhaps— do you? 
You are two hundred to one. You don't want us to 
come down into the open. Ah! I promise you we 


shall give you some sport before you've done. You 
talk about me making a cowardly set upon unoffending 
people. What's that to me that they are unoffending 
when I am starving for next to no offence? But I 
am not a coward. Don't you be one. Bring them 
along or, by all the fiends, we shall yet manage to 
send half your unoffending town to heaven with us 
in smoke!"* 

"He was terrible — ^relating this to me — ^this tortured 
skeleton of a man drawn up together with his face over 
his knees, upon a miserable bed in that wretched hovd, 
and lifting his head to look at me with malignant 

"* That's what I told him — ^I knew what to say,' 
he began again, feebly at first, but working himself up 
with incredible speed into a fiery utterance of his scorn. 
* We aren't going into the forest to wander like a string of 
living skeletons dropping one after another for ants to 
go to work upon us before we are fairly dead. Oh, 
no! . . . "You don't deserve a better fate," he 
said. "And what do you deserve," I shouted at him, 
"you that I find skulking here with your mouth full of 
your responsibility, of innocent lives, of your infernal 
duty? What do you know more of me than I know of 
you? I came here for food. D'ye hear? — ^food to fill 
our bellies. And what did you come for? What did 
you ask for when you came here? We don't ask you 
for anything but to give us a fight or a clear road to go 
back whence we came. . . ." "I would fight with 
you now," says he, pulling at his little moustache. 
"And I would let you shoot me, and welcome," I said. 
"This is as good a jumping-off place for me as another. 
J am sick of my infernal luck. But it would be too 
^ [ easy. There are my men in the same boat — and, by 
* * 1 God, I am not the sort to jump out of trouble and leave 



them in a d — d lurch," I said. He stood thinking for a 
while and then wanted to know what I had done ("out 
there," he says, tossing his head down-stream) to be 
hazed about so. '^Have we met to tell each other the 
story of our lives?" I asked him. "Suppose you 
begin. No? Well, I am sure I don't want to hear. 
Keep it to yourself. I know it is no better than mine. 
I've lived — ^and so did you though you talk as if you 
were one of those people that should have wings so as 
to go about without touching the dirty earth. Well — 
it is dirty. I haven't got any wings. I am here b e- 
ca use I was afraid once in my life . Want to know wEat 
of? Of a prison. That scares me, and you may know 
it — ^if it's any good to you. I won't ask you what scared 
you into tlds infernal hole, where you seem to have 
found pretty pickings. That's your luck and this is 
mine — ^the privilege to beg for the favour of being shot 
quickly, or else kicked out to go free and starve in my 
own way.'" . • . 

"His debilitated body shook with an exultation 
so vehement, so assured, and so malicious that it seemed 
to have driven off the death waiting for him in that hut. 
The corpse of his mad self-love uprose from rags and 
destitution as from the dark horrors of a tomb. It is 
impossible to say how much he Ued to Jim then, how 
much he lied to me now — and to himself always. 
Vanity plays lurid tricks with our memory, and the 
truth of every passion wants some pretence to make it 
live. Standing at the gate of the other world in tEe 
guise of a beggar, he had slapped this world's face, 
he had spat on it, he had thrown upon it an immensity 
of scorn and revolt at the bottom of his misdeeds. He 
had overcome them all — men, women, savages, traders, 
ruffians, missionaries — and Jim — ^that beefy-faced beg- 
gar. I did not begrudge him this triumph in articulo 


mortis, this almost posthumous illusion of having 
trampled all the earth under his feet. While he was 
boasting to me, in his sordid and repulsive agony, I 
couldn't help thinking of the chuckling talk relating to 
the time of his greatest splendour when, during a year 
or more. Gentleman Brown's ship was to be seen, for 
many days on end, hovering off an islet befringed with 
green upon azure, with the dark dot of the mission-house 
on a white beach; while Gentleman Brown, ashore, was 
casting his spells over a romantic girl for whom Melane- 
sia had been too much, and giving hopes of a remarkable 
conversion to her husband. The poor man, some time 
or other, had been heard to express the intention of 
winning "Captain Brown to a better way of life.* . • . 
*Bag Grentleman Brown for Glory* — as a leery-eyed 
loafer expressed it once — *]ust to let them see up above 
what a Western Pacific trading skipper looks like.* 
And this was the man, too, who had run off with a dying 
woman, and had shed tears over her body. * Carried 
on like a big baby,* his then mate was never tired of 
telling, *and where the fun came in may I be kicked to 
death by diseased Kanakas if I know. Why, gents! 
she was too far gone when he brought her aboard to 
know him; she just lay there on her back in his bimk 
staring at the beam with awful shining eyes — and then 
she died. Dam* bad sort of fever, I guess. . . .* 
11 remembered all these stories while, wiping his matted 
lump of a beard with a livid hand, he was telling me 
from his noisome couch how he got round, got in, got 
home, on that confounded, immaculate, don*t-you- 
touch-me sort of fellow. He admitted that he couldn't 
be scared, but there was a way, *as broad as a turnpike, 
to get in and shake his twopenny soul aroimd and inside 
out and upside down — ^by God! 

9 99 


"I don't think he could do more than perhaps look 
upon that straight path. He seemed to have been 
puzzled by what he saw, for he interrupted himself 
in his narrative more than once to exclaim, *He nearly 
slipped from me there. I could not make him out. 
Who was he ? * And after glaring at-meLwildly he would 
go on, jubilating and sneering. ^ To me the convefsatiott^ 
of these two across the creek appears now as the deadli- 
est kind of duel 6n which Fate looked on with her cold- 
eyed knowledge of the end. No, he didn't turn Jim's 
soul inside out, but I am much mistaken if the spirit 
so utterly out of his reach had not been made to taste 
to the full the bitterness of that contest. These were 
the emissaries with whom the world he had renounced 
was pursuing him in his retreat. White men from *out 
there' where he did not think himself good enough to 
live. This was all that came to him — ^a menace, a 
shock, a danger to his work. I suppose it is this sad, 
half-resentful, half-resigned feeling, piercing through 
the few words Jim said now and then, that puzzled 
Brown so much in the reading of his character. Some 
great men owe most of their greatness to the ability 
of detecting in those they destine for their tools the 
exact quality of strength that matters for their work, 
and Brown, as though he had been really great, had a 
Satanic gift of finding out the best and the weakest spot 
in his victims. He admitted to me that Jim wasn't of 
the sort that can be got over by truckling, and accord- 
ingly he took care to show himself as a man confronting 



without dismay ill-luck, censure, and disaster. The 
smuggling of a few guns was no great crime, he pointed 
out. As to coming to Patusan, who had the right to 
say he hadn't come to beg? The infernal people here 
let loose at him from both banks without staying to 
ask questions. He made the point brazenly, for, in 
truth, Dain Waris's energetic action had prevented the 
greatest calamities; because Brown told me distinctly 
that, perceiving the size of the place, he had resolved 
instantly in his mind that as soon as he had gained a 
footing he would set fire right and left, and begin by 
shooting down everything living in sight, in order to 
cow and terrify the population. The disproportion of 
forces was so great that this was the only way giving 
him the slightest chance of attaining his ends — ^he 
argued in a fit of coughing. But he didn't tell Jim this. 
As to the hardships and starvation they had gone 
through, these had been very real; it was enough to 
look at his band. He made, at the sound of a shrill 
whistle, all his men appear standing in a row on the 
logs in full view, so that Jim could see them. For the 
killing of the man, it had been done — ^well, it had — but 
was not this war, bloody war — in a comer? and the 
fellow had been killed cleanly, shot through the chest, 
not like that poor devil of his lying now in the creek. 
They had to listen to him dying for six hours, with his 
entiails torn with slugs. At any rate this was a life 
for a life. . . . And all this was said with the 
weariness, with the recklessness of a man spurred on 
and on by ill-luck till he cares not where he runs. 
When he asked Jim, with a sort of brusque despairing 
frankness, whether he himself — straight now — didn't 
\ understand that when *it came to saving one's life in 
the dark, one didn't care who else went — three, thirty, 
three hundred people' — it was as if a demon had been 


whispering advice in his ear. 'I made him wince/ 
boasted Brown to me. 'He very soon left off coming 
the righteous over me. He just stood there with 
nothing to say, and looking as black as thunder — ^not 
at me — on the ground.' He asked Jim whether he had 
nothing fishy in his life to remember that he was so 
danmedly hard upon a man trying to get out of a deadly 
hole by the first means that came to hand — ^and so on, 
and so on. And there ran through the rough talk a 
vein of subtle reference to their common blood, an 
assumption of common experience; a sickening sug- 
gestion of com mon guilt, of secre t kno wledge that was 
likeAjKmd of Iheir minds and of the ' ' ^ 

"At last llrown tlirew himself down full length and 
watched Jim out of the comers of his eyes. Jim on his 
side of the creek stood thinking and switching his leg. 
The houses in view were silent, as if a pestilence had 
swept them clean of every breath of life; but many 
invisible eyes were turned, from within, upon the two 
men with the creek between them, a stranded white 
boat, and the body of the third man half sunk in the 
mud. On the river canoes were moving again, for 
Patusan was recovering its belief in the stability of 
earthly institutions since the return of the white lord. 
The right bank, the platforms of the houses, the rafts 
moored along the shores, even the roofs of bathing-huts, 
were covered with people that, far away out of earshot 
and almost out of sight, were straining their eyes to- 
wards the knoll beyond the Rajah's stockade. Within 
the wide irregular ring of forests broken in two places by 
the sheen of the river there was a silence. *WiU you 
promise to leave the coast?' Jim asked. Brown 
lifted and let fall his hand, giving everything up as it 
were — ^accepting the inevitable. *And surrender your 
arms ? ' Jim went on. Brown sat up and glared across. 


^Surrender our anns! Not till you come to take them 
out ot our stiff hands. You think I am gone crazy with 
funk? (%> no! That and the rags I stand in is all I 
have got in the world, besides a few more breechloaders 
oa board; and I expect to sell the lot in Madagascar, if 
I ever get so far — ^begging my way from ship to ship/ 

** Jim said nothing to this. At last, throwing away 
the switch he held in his hand, he said, as if speaking 
to himself, *I don't know whether I have the power.' 
• • . *You don't know! And you wanted me 
just now to give up my arms I That's good, too,' cried 
Brown. ^Suppose they say one thing to you, and do 
the other thing to me.' He calmed down markedly. 
*I daresay you have the power, or what's the meaning 
of all this talk?' he continued. 'What did you come 
down here for? To pass the time of day? ' 

"* Very well,* said Jim, lifting his head suddenly after 
a long silence. 'You shall have a clear road or else a 
clear fight.' He turned on his heel and walked away. 

"Brown got up at once, but he did not go up the 
hill till he had seen Jim disappear between the first 
houses. He never set his eyes on him again. On his 
way back he met Cornelius slouching down with his 
bead between his shoulders. He stopped before 
Brown. 'Why didn't you kill him?' he demanded in a 
sour, discontented voice. 'Because I could do better 
than that,' Brown said with an amused smile. 'Never! 
never!' protested Cornelius with energy. 'Couldn't. 
I have lived here for many years.' Brown looked up at 
him curiously. There were many sides to the life of 
that place in arms against him; things he would never 
find out. Cornelius slunk past dejectedly in the 
direction of the river. He was now leaving his new 
friends; he accepted the disappointing course of events 
with a sulky obstinacy which seemed to draw more 


together his little yellow old face; and as he went down 
he glanced askant here and there, never giving up his 
fixed idea. 

"Henceforth events move fast without a check, 
flowing from the very hearts of men like a stream from 
a dark source, and we see Jim amongst them, mostly 
through Tamb' Itam's eyes. The girl's eyes had 
watched him, too, but her life is too much entwined 
with his: there is her passion, her wonder, her anger, 
and, above all, her fear and her unforgiving love. Of 
the faithful servant, uncomprehending as the rest of 
them, it is the fidelity alone that comes into play; a 
fidelity and a belief in his lord so strong that even 
amazement is subdued to a sort of saddened acceptance 
of a mysterious failure. He has eyes only for one figure, 
and through all the mazes of bewilderment he pre- 
serves his air of guardianship, of obedience, of care. 

"His master came back from his talk with the white 
men, walking slowly towards the stockade in the street. 
Everybody was rejoiced to see him return, for while he 
was away every man had been afraid not only of him 
being killed, but also of what would come after. Jim 
went into one of the houses, where old Doramin had 
retired, and remained alone for a long time with the 
head of the Bugis settlers. No doubt he discussed the 
course to follow with him then, but no man was present 
at the conversation. Only Tamb' Itam, keeping as 
close to the door as he could, heard his master say, 'Yes. 
I shall let all the people know that such is my wish; 
but I spoke to you, O Doramin, before all the others, and 
alone; for you know my heart as well as I know yours 
and its greatest desire. And you know well also tiiat I 
have no thought but for the people's good.' Then his 
master, lifting the sheeting in the doorway, went out, 
and he, Tamb' Itam, had a glimpse of old Doramin 


withiiiy sitting in the chair with his hands on his knees, 
and looking between his feet. Afterwards he followed 
his master to the fort, where all the principal Bugis and 
Patusan inhabitants had been summoned for a talk. 
Tamb' Itam himself hoped there would be some fight- 
ing. *What was it but the taking of another hill?' he 
exclaimed regretfully. However, in the town many 
hoped that the rapacious strangers would be induced, 
by the sight of so many brave men making ready to 
fight, to go away. It would be a good thing if they 
went away. Since Jim's arrival had been made known 
before daylight by the gun fired from the fort and the 
beating of the big drum there, the fear that had hung 
over Patusan had broken and subsided like a wave on a 
rock, leaving the seething foam of excitement, curiosity, 
and endless speculation. Half of the population had 
been ousted out of their homes for purposes of defence, 
and were living in the street on the left side of the river, 
crowding round the fort, and in momentary expectation 
of seeing their abandoned dwellings on the threatened 
bank burst into flames. The general anxiety was to 
see the matter settled quickly. Food, through Jewel's 
care, had been served out to the refugees. Nobody 
knew what their white man would do. Some remarked 
that it was worse than in Sherif Ali's war. Then many 
people did not care; now everybody had something to 
lose. The movements of canoes passing to and fro 
between the two parts of the town were watched with 
interest. A couple of Bugis war-boats lay anchored in 
the middle of the stream to protect the river, and a 
thread of smoke stood at the bow of each; the men in 
them were cooking their midday rice when Jim, after 
his interviews with Brown and Doramin, crossed the 
river and entered by the water-gate of his fort. The 
people inside crowded round him so that he could hardly 


make his way to the house. They had not seen him 
before, because on his arrival during the night he had 
only exchanged a few words with the girl, who had come 
down to the landing-stage for the purpose, and had 
then gone on at once to join the chiefs and the fighting 
men on the other bank. People shouted greetings 
after him. One old woman raised a laugh by pushing 
her way to the front madly and enjoining him in a 
scolding voice to see to it that her two sons, who were 
with Doramin, did not come to harm at the hands of the 
robbers. Several of the bystanders tried to pull her 
away, but she struggled and cried, *Let me go. What 
is this, O Muslims? This laughter is unseemly. Are 
they not cruel, bloodthirsty robbers bent on killing?' 
'Let her be,' said Jim, and as a silence fell suddenly, he 
said slowly, * Everybody shall be safe.' He entered the 
house before the great sigh, and the loud murmurs of 
satisfaction, had died out. 

"" There's no doubt his mind was made up that Brown 
should have his way clear back to the sea. His fate, 
revolted, was forcing his hand. He had for the first 
time to affirm his will in the face of out-spoken op- 
position. 'There was much talk, and at first my 
master was silent,' Tamb' Itam said. 'Darkness 
came, and then I lit the candles on the long table. The 
chiefs sat on each side, and the lady remained by my 
master's right hand.' 

"When he began to speak the unaccustomed difficulty 
seemed only to fix his resolve more inmiovably. The 
white men were now waiting for his answer on the hill. 
Their chief had spoken to him in the language of his 
own people, making clear many things difficult to ex- 
plain in any other speech. They were erring men whom 
suffering had made blind to right and wrong. It is 
true that lives had been lost already, but why lose more? 


He declared to his hearers, the assembled heads of the 
people, that their welfare was his welfare, their losses 
his losses, their mourning his mourning. He looked 
round at the grave listening faces and told them to 
remember that they had fought and worked side by 
side. They knew his courage . . • Here a mur- 
mur interrupted him • • • And that he had never 
deceived them. For many years they had dwelt to- 
gether. He loved the land and the people living in it 
with a very great love. He was ready to answer with 
his life for any harm that should come to them if the 
white men with beards were allowed to retire. They 
were evil-doers, but their destiny had been evil, too. 
Had he ever advised them ill? Had his words ever 
brought suffering to the people? he asked. He be- 
lieved that it would be best to let these whites and 
their followers go with their lives. It would be a 
small gift. 'I whom you have tried and found always 
true ask you to let them go.* He turned to Doramin. 
The old nakhoda made no movement. *Then,* said 
Jim, *call in Dain Waris, your son, my friend, for in 
this business I shall not lead.'*' 



*'Tamb' Itam behind his chair was thunderstruck. 
The declaration produced an immense sensation. 'Let 
them go because this is best in my knowledge which has 
never deceived you,* Jim insisted. There was a silence. 
In the darkness of the courtyard could be heard the 
subdued whispering, shuffling noise of many people. 
Doramin raised his heavy head and said that there was 
no more reading of hearts than touching the sky with the 
hand, but — ^he consented. The others gave their opinion 
in turn. 'It is best,' 'Let them go,' and so on. But 
most of them simply said that they 'believed Tuan Jim.' 

"In this simple form of assent to his will lies the 
whole gist of the situation; their creed, his truth; and 
the testimony to that faithfulness which made him in 
his own eyes the equal of the impeccable men who never 
fall out of the ranks. Stein's words, 'Romantic! — 
Romantic ! ' seem to ring over those distances that will 
never give him up now to a world indifferent to his fail- 
ing and his virtues, and to that ardent and clinging 
affection that refuses him the dole of tears in the be- 
wilderment of a great grief and of eternal separation. 
From the moment the sheer truthfulness of his last 
thre ^ years o f life carries the day against the ignorance, 
the fear, and the anger of men, he appears no longer to 
me as I saw him last — a white speck catching all the 
dim light left upon a sombre coast and the darkened 
sea — ^but greater and more pitiful in the loneliness of his 
soul, that remains even for her who loved him best a 
cruel and insoluble mystery. 



"It is evident that he did not mistrust Brown; there 
was no reason to doubt the story, whose truth seemed 
warranted by the rough frankness, by a sort of virile 
sincerity in aocepting the morality and the consequences 
of his ^t&t^But Jim did not know the almost incon- 
ceivable egotism of the man which made him, when re- 
sisted and foiled in his will, mad with the indignant and 
revengeful rage of ^^tHwarted autocjrat. But if Jim did 
not mistrust Brown, ne was evidently anxious that some 
misunderstanding should not occur, ending perhaps in 
collision and bloodshed. It was for this reason that 
directly the Malay chiefs had gone he asked Jewel to get 
him something to eat, as he was going out of the fort to 
take conmiand in the town. On her remonstrating 
against this on the score of his fatigue, he said that 
something might happen for which he would never for- 
give himself. 'I am responsible ior^^veiy Ufe in the 
land/ he said. He was moody at first; she servedtiin 
with her own hands, taking the plates and dishes (of the 
dinner-service presented him by Stein) from Tamb' 
Itam. He brightened up after a while; told her she 
would be again in command of the fort for another 
night. * There's no sleep for us, old girl,* he said, 
* while our people are in danger.' Later on he said 
jokingly that she was the best man of them all. *If 
you and Dain Waris had done what you wanted, not 
one of these poor devils would be alive to-day.' *Are 
they very bad?' she asked, leaning over his chair. 
*Men act badly sometimes without being much worse 
than others,' he said after some hesitation. 

"Tamb' Itam followed his master to the landing- 
stage outside the fort. The night was clear, but with- 
out a moon, and the middle of the river was dark, while 
the water under each bank reflected the light of many 
fires ^ as on a night of Ramadan,' Tamb' Itam said. 


War-boats drifted silently in the dark lane or, anchored, 
floated motionless with a loud ripple. That night there 
was much paddling in a canoe and walking at his 
master's heels for Tamb* Itam : up and down the street 
they tramped, where the fires were burning, inland on 
the outskirts of the town where small parties of men 
kept guard in the fields. Tuan Jim gave his orders and 
was obeyed. Last of all they went to the Rajah's 
stockade, which a detachment of Jim's people manned 
on that night. The old Rajah had fled early in the 
morning with most of his women to a small house he had 
near a jungle village on a tributary stream. Kassim, 
left behind, had attended the coimcil with his air of 
diligent activity to explain away the diplomacy of the 
day before. He was considerably cold-shouldered, but 
managed to preserve his smiling, quiet alertness, and 
professed himself highly delighted when Jim told him 
sternly that he proposed to occupy the stockade on that 
night with his own men. After the coimcil broke up he 
was heard outside accosting this and that departing chief, 
and speaking in a loud, gratified tone of the Rajah's 
property being protected in the Rajah's absence. 

^' About ten or so Jim's men marched in. The 
stockade conunanded the mouth of the creek, and Jim 
meant to remain there till Brown had passed below. 
A small fire was lit on the fiat, grassy point outside the 
wall of stakes, and Tamb' Itam placed a little folding- 
stool for his master. Jim told him to try and sleep. 
Tamb' Itam got a mat and lay down a little way off; 
but he could not sleep, though he knew he had to go on 
an important journey before the night was out. His 
master walked to and fro before the fiire with bowed 
head and with his hands behind his back. His face was 
sad. Whenever his master approached him Tamb' 
Itam pretended to sleep, not wishing his master to know 


he had been watched. At last his master stood still, 
looking down on him as he lay, and said softly, *It is 

^'Tamb' Itam arose directly and made his prepa- 
rations. His mission was to go down the river, preced- 
ing Brown's boat by an hour or more, to tell Dain 
Waris finally and formally that the whites were to be 
allowed to pass out unmolested. Jim would not trust 
anybody else with that service. Before starting Tamb* 
Itam, more as a matter of form (since his position about 
Jim made him perfectly known), asked for a token. 
'Because, Tuan,' he said, Hhe message is important, 
and these are thy very words I carry.* His master first 
put his hand into one pocket, then into another, and 
finally took off his forefinger Stein's silver ring, which 
he habitually wore, and gave it to Tamb* Itam. When 
Tamb* Itam left on his mission, Brown's camp on the knoll 
was dark but for a single small glow shining through the 
branches of one of the trees the white men had cut down. 

"Early in the evening Brown had received from Jim 
a folded piece of paper on which was written, * You get 
the clear road. Start as soon as your boat floats on the 
morning tide. Let your men be careful. The bushes 
on both sides of the creek and the stockade at the mouth 
are full of well-armed men. You would have no chance, 
but I don't believe you want bloodshed.' Brown read 
it, tore the paper into small pieces, and, turning to 
Cornelius, who had brought it, said jeeringly, * Good- 
bye, my excellent friend.' Cornelius had been in the 
fort, and had been sneaking around Jim's house during 
the afternoon. Jim chose him to carry the note be- 
cause he could speak English, was known to Brown, and 
was not likely to be shot by some nervous mistake of 
one of the men as a Malay, approaching in the dusk, 
perhaps might have been. 


" Cornelius didn't go away after delivering the paper. 
Brown was sitting up over a tiny fire; all the others were 
lying down. *I could tell you something you would 
like to know,* Cornelius mumbled crossly. Brown paid 
no attention. *You did not kill him,* went on the 
other, *and what do you get for it? You might have 
had money from the Rajah, besides the loot of all the 
Bugis houses, and now you get nothing.* *You had 
better clear out from here,* growled Brown, without 
even looking at him. But Cornelius let himself drop 
by his side and began to whisper very fast, touching his 
elbow from time to time. What he had to say made 
Brown sit up at first, with a curse. He had simply 
informed him of Dain Waris*s armed party down the 
river. At first Brown saw himself completely sold and 
betrayed, but a moment*s reflection convinced him that 
there could be no treachery intended. He said nothing, 
and after a while Cornelius remarked, in a tone of 
complete indifiFerence, that there was another way out 
of the river which he knew very well. *A good thing 
to know, too,* said Brown, pricking up his ears; and 
Cornelius began to talk of what went on in town and 
repeated all that had been said in council, gossiping in 
an even undertone at Brown*s ear as you talk amongst 
sleeping men you do not wish to wake. *He thinks he 
has made me harmless, does he?* mumbled Brown 
very low. . . . *Yes. He is a fool. A little child. 
He came here.and robbed fiie,* droned on Cornelius, 
'and he made all the people believe him. But if some- 
thing happened that they did not believe him any more, 
where would he be? And the Bugis Dain who is wait- 
ing for you down the river there, captain, is the very 
man who chased you up here when you first came.* 
Brown observed nonchalantly that it would be just as 
well to avoid him, and with the same detached, musing 


air Cornelius declared himself acquainted with a back- 
water broad enough to take Brown's boat past Waris's 
camp. 'You will have to be quiet/ he said as an after- 
thought» 'for in one place we pass close behind his camp. 
Very close. They are camped ashore with their boat 
haule4tup.' 'Oh, we know how to be as quiet as mice; 
never fear/ said Brown. Cornelius stipulated that in 
case he were to pilot Brown out, his canoe should be 
towed. 'I'llliave to get back quick/ he explained. 

''It was two hours before the dawn when word was 
passed to the stockade from outlying watchers that the 
white robbers were coming down to their boat. In a 
very short time every armed man from one end of 
Patusan to the other was on the alert, yet the banks of 
^ the river remained so silent that but for the fires burn- 
ing with sudden blurred flares the town might have 
been asleep as if in peace-time. A heavy mist lay very 
low on the water, making a sort of illusive grey light 
that showed nothing. When Brown's long-boat glided 
out of the creek into the river, Jim was standing on the 
low point of land before the Rajah's stockade — on the 
very spot where for the first time he put his foot on 
Patusan shore. A shadow loomed up, moving in the 
greyness, solitary, very bulky, and yet constantly elud- 
ing the eye. A murmur of low talking came out of it. 
Brown at the tiller heard Jim speak calmly: 'A clear 
froad. You had better trust to the current while the fog 
lasts; but this will lift presently.' 'Yf^juPiesentljus:^ 
^all see dear/ replied Brown. 

' "The thirty or forty men standing with muskets at 
ready outside the stockade held their breath. The 
Bugis owner of the prau, whom I saw on Stein's veran- 
dah, and who was amongst them, told me that the boat, 
shaving the low point close, seemed for a moment to 
grow big and hang over it like a mountain. 'If you 


think it worth your while to wait a day outside,' called 
out Jim, *ni try to send you down something — 
bullock, some yams — what I can/ The shadow went 
on moving. ^Yes. Do,' said a voice, blank and 
muffled out of the fog. Not one of the many attentive 
listeners understood what the words meant; aiit then 
Brown and his men in their boat floated away, fading 
spectrally without the slightest sound. 

"Thus Brown, invisible in the mist^'goes out of 
Patusan elbow to elbow with Cornelius in the stem- 
sheets of the long-boat. 'Perhaps you shall get a small 
bullock,' said Cornelius. *0h, yes. Bullook. Yam. 
You'll get it if A^ said so. He always speaks the truth. 
He stole everything I had. I suppose you like a small a.. 
bullock better than the loot of many houses.' 'I would 9 
advise you to hold your tongue, or somebody here may 
fling you overboard into this damned fog,' said Brown. 
The boat seemed to be standing still; nothing could be 
seen, not even the river alongside, only the water-dust 
flew and trickled, condensed, down their beards and 
faces. It was weird. Brown told me. Every individual 
man of them felt as though he were adrift alone in a 
boat, haunted by an almost imperceptible suspicion of 
sighing, muttering ghosts. * Throw me out, would you? 
But I would know where I was,' mumbled Cornelius, 
surlily. *I've lived many years here.' *Not long 
enough to see through a fog like this,' Brown said, lolling 
back with his arm swinging to and fro on the useless 
tiller. *Yes. Long enough for that,' snarled Corne- 
lius. * That's very useful,' commented Brown. *Am 
I to believe you could find that backway you spoke of 
blindfold, like this ? ' Cornelius grunted. * Are you too 
tired to row?' he asked after a silence. *No, by God!' 
shouted Brown suddenly. *Out with your oars there.' 
There was a great knocking in the fog, which after a 


while settled into a regular grind of invisible sweeps 
against invisible thole-pins. Otherwise nothing was 
changed, and but for the slight splash of a dipped blade 
it was like rowing a balloon car in a cloud, said Brown. 
Thereafter Cornelius did not open his lips except to ask 
querulously for somebody to bale out his canoe, which 
was towing behind the long-boat. Gradually the fog 
whitened and became luminous ahead. To the left 
Brown saw a darkness as though he had been looking 
at the back of the departing night. All at once a big 
bough covered with leaves appeared above his head, and 
ends of twigs, dripping and still, curved slenderly close 
alongside. Cornelius, without a word, took the tiller 
from his hand.'' 



"I don't think they spoke together again. The boat 
entered a narrow by-channel» where it was pushed by 
the oar-blades set into crumbling banks, and there was 
a gloom as if enormous black wings had been outspread 
above the mist that filled its depth to the summits of the 
trees. The branches overhead showered big drops 
through the gloomy fog. At a mutter from Cornelius, 
Brown ordered his men to load. 'I'll give you a chance 
to get even with them before we're done, you dismal 
cripples, you/ he said to his gang. 'Mind you don't 
throw it away — ^you hounds.* Low growls answered 
that speech. Cornelius showed much fussy concern for 
the saiety of his canoe. 

''Meantime Tamb' Itam had reached the end of his 
journey. The fog had delayed him a little, but he had 
paddled steadily, keeping in touch with the south bank. 
By-and-by daylight came like a glow in a ground glass 
globe. The shores made on each side of the river a 
dark smudge, in which one could detect hints of colum- 
nar forms and shadows of twisted branches high up. 
The mist was still thick on the water, but a good watch 
was being kept, for as Tamb' Itam approached the camp 
the figures of two men emerged out of the white vapour, 
and voices spoke to him boisterously. He answered, 
and presently a canoe lay alongside, and he exchanged 
news with the paddlers. All was well. The trouble 
was over. Then the men in the canoe let go their grip 
on the side of his dug-out and incontinently fell out of 
sight. He pursued his way till he heard voices coming 



to him quietly over the water, and saw, under the now 
lifting, swirling mist, the glow of many little fires burn- 
ing on a sandy stretch, backed by lofty thin timber and 
bushes. There again a look-out was kept, for he was 
challenged. He shouted his name as the two last 
sweeps of his paddle ran his canoe up on the strand. It 
was a big camp. Men crouched in many knots under a 
subdued murmur of early morning talk. Many thin 
threads of smoke curled slowly on the white mist. 
Little shelters, elevated above the ground, had been 
built for the chiefs. Muskets were stacked in small 
pyramids, and long spears were stuck singly into the 
sand near the fires. 

*^Tamb' Itam, assuming an air of importance, de- 
manded to be led to Dain Waris. He found the friend 
of his white lord lying on a raised couch made of bam- 
boo, and sheltered by a sort of shed of sticks covered 
with mats. Dain Waris was awake, and a bright fire 
was burning before his sleeping-place, which resembled 
a rude shrine. The only son of Nakhoda Doramin 
answered his greeting kindly. Tamb* Itam began by 
handing him the ring which vouched for the truth of 
the messenger's words. Dam Waris, reclinmg on his 
elbow, bade him speak and tell all the news. Beginning 
with the consecrated formula, *The news is good,* 
Tamb' Itam delivered Jim's own words. The white 
men, departing with the consent of all the chiefs, were 
to be allowed to pass down the river. In answer to a 
question or two Tamb* Itam then reported the pro- 
ceedings of the last council. Dain Waris listened 
attentively to the end, toying with the ring which 
ultimately he slipped on the forefinger of his right hand. 
After hearing all he had to say he dismissed Tamb' 
Itam to have food and rest. Chrders for the return in 
the afternoon were given immediately. Afterwards 


Dain Waris lay down again, open-eyed, while his 
personal attendants were preparing his food at the fire, 
by which Tamb' Itam also sat talking to the men who 
lounged up to hear the latest intelligence from the town. 
The sun was eating up the mist. A good watch was 
kept upon the reach of the main stream where the boat 
of the whites was expected to appear every moment. 

"It was then that Brown took his revenge upon the 
world which, after twenty years of contemptuous and 
reckless bullying, refused him the tribute of a common 
robber's success. It was an act of cold-blooded ferocity, 
and it consoled him on his deathbed like a memory of an 
indomitable defiance. Stealthily he landed his men 
on the other side of the island opposite to the Bugis 
camp, and led them across. After a short but quite 
silent scuffle, Cornelius, who had tried to slink away 
at the moment of landing, resigned himself to show the 
way where the undergrowth was most sparse. Brown 
held both his skinny hands together behind his back in 
the grip of one vast fist, and now and then impelled him 
forward with a fierce push. Cornelius remained as 
mute as a fish, abject but faithful to his purpose, whose 
accomplishment loomed before him dimly. At the 
edge of the patch of forest Brown's men spread them- 
selves out in cover and waited. The camp was plain 
from end to end before their eyes, and no one looked 
their way. Nobody even dreamed that the white men 
could have any knowledge of the narrow channel at the 
back of the island. When he judged the moment come. 
Brown yelled, 'Let them have it,' and fourteen shots 
rang out like one. 

"Tamb' Itam told me the surprise was so great that, 
except for those who fell dead or wounded, not a soul of 
them moved for quite an appreciable time after the 
first discharge. Then a man screamed, and after that 


scream a great yell of amazement and fear went up from 
all the throats. A blind panic drove these men in a 
surging swaying mob to and fro along the shore like a 
herd of catUe afraid of the water. Some few jumped 
into the river then, but most of them did so only after 
the last discharge. Three times Brown's men fired into 
the rucky Brown» the only one in view, cursing and yell- 
ing, * Aim low! aim low!' 

^'Tamb' Itam says that, as for him, he understood 
at the first volley what had happened. Though un- 
touched he fell down and lay as if dead, but with his 
eyes open. At the sound of the first shots Dain Waris, 
reclining on the couch, jumped up and ran out upon the 
open shore, just in time to receive a bullet in his fore- 
head at the second discharge. Tamb' Itam saw him 
fling his arms wide open before he fell. Then, he says, 
a great fear came upon him — not before. The white 
men retired as they had come — ^unseen. 

"Thus Brown balanced his account with the evil 
fortune. JNotice that even in this awful outbreak there 
is a superiority as of a man who carries right — the 
abstract thing — ^within the envelope of his common 
desires. It was not a vulgar and treacherous massacre; 
it was a lesson, a retribution — ^a demonstration of some 
obscure and awful attribute of our nature which, I am 
afraid, is not so very far under the surface as we like to 

"Afterwards the whites depart unseen by Tamb' 
Itam, and seem to vanish from before men's eyes al- 
together; and the schooner, too, vanishes after the 
manner of stolen goods. But a story is told of a white 
long-boat picked up a month later in the Indian Ocean 
by a cargo-steamer. Two parched, yellow, glassy-eyed, 
whispering skeletons in her recognized the authority of a 
third, who declared that his name was Brown. His 


schooner, he reported, bound south with a cargo of Java 
sugar, had sprung a bad leak and sank under his feet, 
He and his companions were the survivors of a crew of 
six. The two died on board the steamer which rescued 
them. Brown lived to be seen by me, and I can testify 
that he had played his part to the last. 

"It seems, however, that in going away they had 
neglected to cast off Cornelius's canoe. CorneUus him- 
self Brown had let go at the beginning of the shooting, 
with a kick for a parting benediction. Tamb' Itam, 
after arising from amongst the dead, saw the Nazarene 
running up and down the shore amongst the corpses and 
the expiring fires. He uttered little cries. Suddenly 
he rushed to the water, and made frantic efforts to get 
one of the Bugis boats into the water. * Afterwards, 
till he had seen me,* related Tamb' Itam, *he stood 
looking at the heavy canoe and scratching his head.' 
^What became of him?' I asked. Tamb' Itam, star- 
ing at me, made an expressive gesture with his right 
arm. * Twice I struck, Tuan,' he said. *When he be- 
held me approaching he cast himself violently on the 
ground and made a great outcry, kicking. He screeched 
like a frightened hen till he felt the point; then he was 
still, and lay staring at me while his life went out of his 

"This done, Tamb' Itam did not tarry. He under- 
stood the importance of being the first with the awful 
news at the fort. There were, of course, many sur- 
vivors of Dain Waris's party; but in the extremity of 
panic some had swum across the river, others had 
bolted into the bush. The fact is that they did not 
know really who struck that blow — whether more white 
robbers were not coming, whether they had not already 
got hold of the whole land. They imagined themselves 
to be the victims of a vast treachery, and utterly 


doomed to destruction. It is said that some small 
parties did not come in till three days afterwards. 
However, a few tried to make their way back to Patusan 
at once, and one of the canoes that were patrolling the 
river that morning was in sight of the camp at the very 
moment of the attack. It is true that at first the men 
in her leaped overboard and swam to the opposite bank, 
but afterwards they returned to their boat and started 
fearfully upstream. Of these Tamb' Itam had an 
hour's advance." 


^'When Tamb' Itam, paddling madly, came into 
the town-reach, the women, thronging the platforms 
before the houses, were looking out for the return of 
Dain Waris's little fleet of boats. The town had a 
festive ah*; here and there men, still with spears or guns 
in their hands, could be seen moving or standing on the 
shore in groups. Chinamen's shops had been opened 
early; but the market-place was empty, and a sentry, 
still posted at the comer of the fort, made out Tamb' 
Itam, and shouted to those within. The gate was wide 
open. Tamb' Itam jumped ashore and ran in head- 
long. The first person he met was the girl coming dovm 
from the house. 

^'Tamb' Itam, disordered, panting, with trembling 
lips and wild eyes, stood for a time before her as if a 
sudden spell had been laid on him. Then he broke out 
very quickly: *They have killed Dain Waris and many 
more.' She clapped her hands, and her first words 
were, ^Shut the gates.' Most of the fortmen had gone 
back to their houses, but Tamb' Itam hurried on the 
few who remained for their turn of duty within. The 
girl stood in the middle of the courtyard while the others 
ran about. * Doramin,' she cried despairingly, as Tamb' 
Itam passed her. Next time he went by he answered 
her thought rapidly, * Yes. But we have all the powder 
in Patusan.' She caught him by the arm, and, pointing 
at the house, ^ Call him out,' she whispered, trembling. 

^'Tamb' Itam ran up the steps. His master was 
sleeping. ^ It is I, Tamb' Itam,' he cried at the door, 



* with tidings that cannot wait/ He saw Jim turn over 
on the pillow and open his eyes, and he burst out at once. 
*Tliis, Tuan, is a day of evil, an accursed day.* His 
master raised himself on his elbow to listen — ^just as 
Dain Waris had done. And then Ta^b* Itam began 
his tale, trying to relate the story in order, calling Dain 
Waris Panglima, and saying: ' The Panglima then called 
out to the chief of his own boatmen, ^"Give Tamb' Itam 
something to eat ** * — ^when his master put his feet to the 
ground and looked at him with such a discomposed face 
that the words remained in his throat. 

^^' Speak out,' said Jim. ^Is he dead?' 'May you 
live long,' cried Tamb' Itam. *It was a most cruel 
treachery. He ran out at the first shots and fell. . . .' 
His master walked to the window and with his fist 
struck at the shutter. The room was made light; and 
then in a steady voice, but speaking fast, he began to 
give him orders to assemble a fleet of boats for im- 
mediate piu*suit, go to this man, to the other — send 
messengers; and as he talked he sat down on the bed, 
stooping to lace his boots hurriedly, and suddenly looked 
up. *Why do you stand here?' he asked very red- 
faced. * Waste no time.' Tamb' Itam did not move. 

* Forgive me, Tuan, but . . . but,' he began to 
stammer. 'What?' cried his master aloud, looking 
terrible, leaning forward with his hands gripping the 
edge of the bed. *It is not safe for thy servant to go 
out amongst the people,' said Tamb' Itam, after hesi- 
tatmg a moment. 

**Then Jim understood. He had retreated from one 
world, for a small matter of an impulsive jump, and 
now the other, the work of his own hands, had fallen in 
ruins upon his head. It was not safe for his servant 
to go out amongst his own people! I believe that in 
that very moment he had decided to defy the disaster 

LORD JIM 401» 

in the only way it occurred to him such a disaster could 
be defied; but all I know is that» without a word, he 
came out of his room and sat before the long table, at 
the head of which he was accustomed to regulate the 
affairs of his world, proclaiming daily the truth that 
surely lived in his heart. The dark powers should 
not rob him twice of his peace. He sat like a stone 
figure. Tamb' Itam, deferential, hinted at prepara- 
tions for defence. The girl he loved came in and spoke 
to him, but he made a sign with his hand, and she was 
awed by the dumb appeal for silence in it. She went 
out on the verandah and sat on the threshold, as if to 
guard him with her body from dangers outside. 

"What thoughts passed through his head — ^what 
memories? Who can tell? Everything was gone, and 
he who had been once unfaithful to his trust had lost 
again all men's confidence. It was then, I believe, he 
tried to write — ^to somebody — ^and gave it up. Loneli- 
ness was closing on him. People had trusted him with 
their lives — only for that; and yet they could never, as 
he had said, never be made to understand him. Those 
without did not hear him make a sound. Later, 
towards the evening, he came to the door and called for 
Tamb* Itam. * Well? ' he asked. * There is much weep- 
ing. Much anger, too,' said Tamb' Itam. Jim looked 
up at him. *You know,' he murmured. *Yes, Tuan,' 
said Tamb' Itam. *Thy servant does know, and the 
gates are closed. We shall have to fight.' * Fight! 
What for? ' he asked. * For our lives.' * I have no life,' 
he said. Tamb' Itam heard a cry from the girl at the 
door. * Who knows ? ' said Tamb' Itam. * By audacity 
and cunning we may even escape. There is much fear 
in men's hearts, too.' He went out, thinking vaguely 
of boats and of open sea, leaving Jim and the girl to- 


^I hftyen't tlie heart to set down here such glimpses 
M she had gtven me of the hour cv mine she has passed 
in there wrestling with him fcv the possession of her 
hi^ipiness. Whether he had any hope — what he ez- 
pected^ idiat he imagined — it is impossible to say. He 
was inflezible» and with the growing kmeUness of his 
obstinacy his q>irit seemed to rise above the ruins of his 
existence* She cried ^Fi^t!* into his ear. She could 
not understand* There was nothing to fi{^t for. He 
(^ was going to prove his power ii^ another way and 
eonquer the fatal destiny itself. He came out into the 
courtyard^ and behind him, with streaming hair, wild 
of face, breathless, she staggered out and leaned on the 
side of the doorway. ^Open the gates,' he ordered. 
Afterwards, turning to those of his men who were in- 
side, he gave them leave to depart to their homes. *For 
how long, Tuan? ' asked one of them timidly. *For all 
life,' he said, in a sombre tone. 

'^A hush had fallen upon the town after the out- 
burst of wailing and lamentation that had swept over 
the river, like a gust of wind from the opened abode of 
sorrow. But rumours flew in whispers, filling the hearts 
with consternation and horrible doubts. The robbers 
were coming back, bringing many others with them, in a 
great ship, and there would be no refuge in the land for 
any one. A sense of utter insecurity as during an earth- 
quake pervaded the minds of men, who whispered their 
suspicions, looking at each other as if in the presence of 
some awful portent. 

**The sun was sinking towards the forests when Dain 
Waris's body was brought into Doramin's campong. 
Four men carried it in, covered decently with a white 
sheet which the old mother had sent out down to the 
gate to meet her son on his return. They laid him at 
Doramin's feet, and the old man sat still for a long time. 




one hand on each knee» looking down. The fronds of 
pahns swayed gently, and the foliage of fruit-trees 
stirred above his head. Every single man of his people 
was there, fully armed, when the old nakhoda at last 
raised his eyes. He moved them slowly over the crowd, 
as if seeking for a missing face. Again his chin sank on 
his breast. The whispers of many men mingled with 
the slight rustling of the leaves. 

"'The Malay who had brought Tamb' Itam and the 
girl to Samarang was there, too. 'Not so angry as 
many,' he said to me, but struck with a great awe and 
wonder at the 'suddenness of men's fate, which hangs 
over their heads like a cloud charged with thunder.' 
He told me that when Dain Waris's body was uncovered 
at a sign of Doramin's, he whom they often called the 
white lord's friend was disclosed lying unchanged with 
his eyelids a little open as if about to wake. Doramin 
leaned forward a little more, like one looking for some- 
thing fallen on the ground. His eyes searched the body 
from its feet to its head, for the wound maybe. It was 
in the forehead and small; and there was no word 
spoken while one of the bystanders, stooping, took off 
the silver ring from the cold stiff hand. In silence he 
held it up before Doramin. A murmur of dismay and 
horror ran through the crowd at the sight of that 
familiar token. The old nakhoda stared at it, and 
suddenly let out one great fierce cry, deep from the 
chest, a roar of pain and fury, as mighty as the bellow 
of a wounded bull, bringing great fear into men's hearts, 
by the magnitude of his anger and his sorrow that could 
be plainly discerned without words. There was a great 
stillness afterwards for a space, while the body was 
being borne aside by four men. They laid it down 
under a tree, and on the instant, with one long shriek, 
all the women of the household began to wail together; 



they mourned with shrill cries; the sun was setting, and 
in the intervals of screamed lamentations the high sing- 
song voices of two old men intoning the Koran chanted 

*^ About this time Jim, leaning on a gun-carriage, 
looked at the river, and turned his back on the house; 
and the girl, in the doorway, panting as if she had run 
herself to a standstill, was looking at him across the 
yard. Tamb' Itam stood not far from his master, wait- 
ing patiently for what might happen. All at once Jim, 
who seemed to be lost in quiet thought, turned to him 
and said, ^Time to finish this.' 

"*Tuan?* said Tamb* Itam, advancing with alacrity. 
He did not know what his master meant, but as soon 
as Jim made a movement the girl started, too, and 
walked down into the open space. It seems that no one 
else of the people of the house was in sight. She tottered 
slightly, and about half-way down called out to Jim, 
who had apparently resumed his peaceful contempla- 
tion of the river. He turned round, setting his back 
against the gun. 'Will you fight?* she cried. * There 
is nothing to fight for,* he said; * nothing is lost.* Say- 
ing this he made a step towards her. * Will you fly? * she 
cried again. * There is no escape,* he said, stopping 
short, and she stood still also, silent, devouring him 
with her eyes. *And you shall go?' she said, slowly. 
He bent his head. *Ah!' she exclaimed, peering at him 
as it were, *you are mad or false. Do you remember 
the night I prayed you to leave me, and you said that 
you could not? That it was impossible! Impossible! 
Do you remember you said you would never leave me? 
Why? I asked you for no promise. You promised 
unasked — remember.* 'Enough, poor girl,* he said. 
*I should not be worth having.* 

**Tamb* Itam said that while they were talking she 


would laugh loud and senselessly like one under the 
visitation of God. His master put his hands to his 
head. He was fully dressed as for every day, but with- 
out a hat. She stopped laughing suddenly, ^For the 
last time,* she cried, menacingly, * will you defend your- 
self?* ^Nothing can touch me,* he said in a last flicker 
of superb egoism. Tamb* Itam saw her lean forward 
where she stood, open her arms, and run at him swiftly. 
She flung herself upon his breast and clasped him round 
the neck. 

*^^ Ah! but I shall hold thee thus/ she cried. . . • 
*Thou art mine!* 

"She sobbed on his shoulder. The sky over Patusan 
was blood-red, immense, streaming like an open vein. 
An enormous sun nestled crimson amongst the tree- 
tops, and the forest below had a black and forbidding 

"Tamb* Itam tells me that on that evening the 
aspect of the heavens was angry and frightful. I may 
well believe it, for I know that on that very day a 
cyclone passed within sixty miles of the coast, though 
there was hardly more than a languid stir of air in the 

"Suddenly Tamb* Itam saw Jim catch her arms, 
trying to unclasp her hands. She hung on them with 
her head fallen back; her hair touched the ground. 
* Come here ! * his master called, and Tamb* Itam helped 
to ease her down. It was diflicult to separate her 
fingers. Jim, bending over her, looked earnestly upon 
her face, and all at once ran to the landing-stage. 
Tamb* Itam followed him, but turning his head, he saw 
that she had struggled up to her feet. She ran after 
them a few steps, then fell down heavily on her knees. 
'Tuan! Tuan!* called Tamb* Itam, 'look back;* but 
Jim was already in a canoe, standing up paddle in hand. 



He did not look back. Tamb' Itam had just time to 
scramble in after him when the canoe floated clear. 
The girl was then on her knees, with clasped hands, at 
the water-gate. She remained thus for a time in a sup- 
plicating attitude before she sprang up. 'You are 
false!' she screamed out after Jim. 'Forgive me/ he 
cried. 'Never! Never!* she called back. 

"Tamb* Itam took the paddle from Jim's hands, it 
being unseemly that he should sit while his lord paddled. 
When they reached the other shore his master forbade 
him to come any farther; but Tamb' Itam did follow 
him at a distance, walking up the slope to Doramin's 

"It was beginning to grow dark. Torches twinkled 
here and there. Those they met seemed awestruck, 
and stood aside hastily to let Jim pass. The wailing 
of women came from above. The courtyard was full 
of armed Bugis with their followers, and of Patusan 

''I do not know what this gathering really meant. 
Were these preparations for war, or for vengeance, or to 
repulse a threatened invasion? Many days elapsed 
before the people had ceased to look out, quaking, for 
the return of the white men with long beards and in 
rags, whose exact relation to their own white man they 
could never understand. Even for those simple minds 
poor Jim remains under a cloud. 

''Doramin, alone, immense and desolate, sat in his 
arm-chair with the pair of flintlock pistols on his knees, 
faced by an armed throng. When Jim appeared, at 
somebody's exclamation, all the heads turned round 
together, and then the mass opened right and left, and 
he walked up a lane of averted glances. Whispers 
followed him; murmuril: 'He has worked all the evil.' 
'He hath a charm.' • • . He heard them — perhaps! 


"When he came up into the light of torches the wail- 
ing of the women ceased suddenly. Doramin did not 
lift his head, and Jim stood silent before him for a time. 
Then he looked to the left, and moved in that direction 
with measured steps. Dain Waris's mother crouched at 
the head of the body, and the grey dishevelled hair con- 
cealed her face. Jim came up slowly, looked at his dead 
friend, lifting the sheet, then dropp^ it without a word. 
Slowly he walked back. 

"^He came! He came!' was running from lip to lip, 
making a murmur to which he moved. 'He hath taken 
it upon his own head,' a voice said aloud. He heard 
this and turned to the crowd. * Yes. Upon my head.' 
A few people recoiled. Jim waited awhile before 
Doramin, and then said gently, 'I am come in sorrow.' 
He waited again. 'I am come ready and unarmed,' he 

"The unwieldy old man, lowering his big forehead 
like an ox under a yoke, made an effort to rise, clutching 
at the flintlock pistols on his knees. From his throat 
came gurgling, choking, J^SSnan^nds, and his two 
attendants helped him fromBeESnd. People remarked 
that the ring which he had dropped on his lap fell and 
rolled against the foot of the white man, and that poor 
Jim glanced down at the talisman that had opened for 
him the door of fame, love, and success within the wall of 
forests fringed with white foam, within the coast that 
under the western sun looks like the very stronghold of 
the night. Doramin, struggling to keep his feet, made 
with his two supporters a swaying, tottering group; his 
little eyes stared with an expression of mad pain, of rage, 
with a ferocious glitter, which the bystanders noticed; 
and then, while Jim stood stiffened and with bared head 
in the light of torches, looking him straight in the face, 
he clung heavily with his left arm round the neck of a 


bowed youth, and lifting deliberately his right, shot his 
son's friend through the chest. 

""The crowd, which had fallen apart behind Jim as 
soon as Doramin had raised his hand, rushed tumultu- 
ously forward after the shot. They say that the white 
man sent right and left at all those faces a proud and 
unflinching glance. Tfiien with his hand over his lips 
'^ ~iie fcfrf (5fw&d, dead. 



''And that's the end. He passes away under a cloud, 
inscrutable at heart, forgotten, unforgiven, and ex- 
cessively romantic. Not in the wildest days of his 
boyish visions could he have seen the alluring shape of 
such an extraordinary success ! For it may very well be 
that in the short moment of his last proud and un- 
flinching glance, he had beheld the face of that op- 
portunity which, like an Eastern bride, had come veiled 
to his side. 

"But we can see him, an obscure conqueror of fame, 
tearing himself out of the arms of a jealous love at the 
sign, at the call of his exalted egoism. THe goes away 
from a living woman to celebrate his pitiless wedding 
mlh a shadowy ideal of conduct. ) Is he satisfied — 
quite, now, I wonder? We ought to know. He is one 
of us — and have I not stood up once, like an evoked 
ghost, to answer for his eternal constancy? Was I so 
'Very wrong after all? Now he is no more, there are 
days when the reality of his existence comes to me with 
an immense, with an overwhelming force; and yet upon 
my honour there are moments, too, when he passes from 
my eyes like a disembodied spirit astray amongst the 
passions of this earth, ready to surrender himself faith- 
fully to the claim of his own world of shades. 

"Who knows? He is gone, inscrutable at heart, and 
the poor girl is leading a sort of soundless, inert life in 


Stein's house. Stein has aged greatly of late. He 
feels it himself, and says often that he is 'preparing to 
leave all this; preparing to leave . . .' while he 
waves his hand sadly at his butterflies/' 

September lS99-^vly 1900. 





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